Northern Territory in March 2011: Wet and cold in central NT

  • Record rainfall accross central NT
  • Darwin Airport surpasses wet season rainfall record
  • Low maximum temperatures for most of the month

Monsoon trough dips farther south than normal

The month began with a monsoon trough positioned as far south as Tennant Creek which persisted for the first half of the month. This broad area of low pressure produced persistent and sometimes heavy rainfall across central part of the Territory. While it is not unusual for the monsoon to extend so far south, it is unusual for the trough to persist for so long this far south. Within the first three weeks of the month several rainfall records were broken and the McArthur river rose to minor flood levels. The active monsoon trough across the Victoria, Barkley, Roper-McArthur and northern Alice Springs Districts brought heavy rainfall from the 8th to 10th of March. Most stations across central parts of the Territory exceeded their monthly mean rainfall within these three days.

As a consequence of the thick cloud cover and rainfall across central NT, several locations experienced below average monthly mean temperatures with some experiencing their lowest on record.

Darwin Airport surpasses wet season rainfall record

On 4 March at the 9 am rainfall measurement Darwin Airport showed 15.4 mm. This brought the wet season rainfall total to 2511.2 mm surpassing the previous highest of 2499.4 mm set in the 1996/1997 wet season. The climatological wet season in the Top End runs from 1 October to 30 April. The wet season record was broken with 57 potential rain days left in the wet season. As of the end of March Darwin Airport had 2725.4 mm of rain, 164% of the average wet season total, with one month still remaining until the end of the wet.

Rainfall

Nine sites had their highest total March rainfall on record including Brunette Downs, McArthur River Mine and Rabbit Flat. This additional rainfall came as a direct result of the monsoon trough that spent most of the month positioned over central NT. The highest rainfall amounts came between the 8th and the 20th. A few significant daily rainfall totals include 104 mm at Brunette Downs on the 13th, 80 mm at Arltunga on the 8th, 126 mm at Brunchilli on the 10th, and 105 mm at Krundi on the 8th.

With only 231.6 mm, this was the first month since August of last year that Darwin Airport measured below average monthly rainfall (average being 320.8 mm). However, due to the record high rainfall in February, this January to March period has marked the wettest start of any year on record for Darwin.

The wettest overall was Bing Bong Port with 663.2 mm, followed by McArthur River Mine with 548.0 mm, and then Centre Island with 525.8 mm.

The driest overall was at Fanny Creek with 10.2 mm followed by Kulgera with 19.4 mm.

The wettest single day was at Kalkarindji with 258.2 mm on the 23rd, followed by Limmen River with 163.8 mm on the 31st, followed by Helen Springs with 148.0 mm on the 4th.

Temperature

With thick cloud cover for most of the month and periods of heavy rainfall, maximum temperatures around the territory remained cooler than average all month while minimum temperatures were near or slightly above average.

The warmest on average was Bradshaw with 28.9 °C, followed by McArthur River Mine and Ngukurr which both had an average of 28.6 °C, and then Timber Creek with 28.6 °C.

The coolest on average was Arltunga with 23.2 °C, followed by Alice Springs Airport with 23.4 °C, followed by Kulgera with 23.6 °C.

Maximum temperature

The hottest days were at Walungurru with 37.8 °C on the 7th, followed by Papunya with 37.7 °C on the 9th and then Walungurru again with 37.6 °C on the 12th. It is no surprise then that the warmest days on average were also at Walungurru with 33.2 °C. The next warmest days on average were at Bradshaw with 33.1 °C, followed by Kidman Springs and Timber Creek which both had 32.8 °C.

The coolest days on average were at Arltunga with 27.8 °C, followed by Alice Springs Airport with 28.8 °C, and then Central Arnhem Plateau with 30.0 °C.

The coldest days were at Arltunga with 20.8 °C on the 22nd, 22.0 °C on the 4th, and 22.1 °C on the 10th. Later in the month Papunya also had a notably cool day with a maximum temperature of only 22.1 °C on the 22nd.

Dum In Mirrie had their coldest March day (lowest maximum temperature) on record with 27.0 on the 31st. Several sites had their lowest March mean daily maximum temperature on record including Tennant Creek Airport, Rabbit Flat, and Katherine Aviation Museum.

Minimum temperature

The coldest night was on the 28th with 7.5 °C at Kulgera and 8.0 °C at Alice Springs Airport. The next coldest was at Kulgera with 8.1 °C on the 24th.

The coolest nights on average were at Kulgera with 17.1 °C, followed by Alice Springs Airport with 17.8 °C, and then Arltunga with 18.2 °C.

The warmest nights on average were at North East Island with 25.7 °C followed by Black Point with 25.6 °C.

The warmest night was at Black Point with 28.2 °C on the 2nd, followed by Dum In Mirrie with 28.1 °C on the 3rd, and then Centre Island with 28.1 °C on the 13th.

Groote Eylandt Airport measured their highest March mean daily minimum temperature on record while Centre Island had their lowest March mean daily minimum temperature on record.

Wind

The strongest wind gust was at Walungurru with 80 km/h on the 13th, followed by Darwin Airport with 76 km/h on the 11th, and then Ngayawili with 74 km/h on the 10th.

Further information

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Extremes in March 2011
Hottest day 37.8 °C at Walungurru on the 7th
Warmest days on average 33.2 °C at Walungurru
Coolest days on average 27.8 °C at Arltunga
Coldest day 20.8 °C at Arltunga on the 22nd
Coldest night 7.5 °C at Kulgera on the 28th
Coolest nights on average 17.1 °C at Kulgera
Warmest nights on average 25.7 °C at North East Island
Warmest night 28.2 °C at Black Point on the 2nd
Warmest on average overall 28.9 °C at Bradshaw
Coolest on average overall 23.2 °C at Arltunga
Wettest overall 663.2 mm at Bing Bong Port
Driest overall 10.2 mm at Fanny Creek
Wettest day 258.2 mm at Kalkarindji on the 23rd
Highest wind gust 80 km/h at Walungurru on the 13th

Record highest total March rainfall
Total rainfall
for March 2011 (mm)
Previous wettest
for March
Years of
record
Average for
March
Brunette Downs 319.4 317.9 in 1941 116 54.3
Helen Springs 388.2 348.0 in 1949 64 64.3
Kurundi 474.1 203.4 in 1941 56 37.4
McArthur River Mine 548.0 416.9 in 1985 40 134.7
Brunchilly 340.6 226.8 in 1982 36 64.0
Territory Grape Farm 109.2 99.9 in 1989 22 17.7
Gemtree Park 145.1 98.2 in 2001 19 14.4
Kalkarindji 403.8 104.6 in 2006 13 32.5
Rabbit Flat 385.2 347.2 in 2001 13 65.2




Record lowest March daily maximum temperature
Lowest daily maximum
temperature
in March 2011 (°C)
Previous coolest
for March
Years of
record
Average for
March
Dum In Mirrie 27.2 on the 5th 28.0 on the 15th in 2006 11 31.6



Record lowest March mean daily maximum temperature
Mean daily maximum
temperature
for March 2011 (°C)
Previous coolest
for March
Years of
record
Average for
March
Brunette Downs 31.1 32.3 in 1974 46 35.2
Tennant Creek Airport 30.4 31.2 in 2001 40 34.4
Wave Hill 31.4 32.4 in 1974 36 35.5
Timber Creek 32.8 32.9 in 1989 29 35.5
Wollogorang 32.0 32.2 in 2006 24 34.5
Katherine Aviation Museum 31.9 32.3 in 1989 23 34.3
Tindal RAAF 32.2 = 32.2 in 2000 22 34.2
Lajamanu 31.0 32.3 in 2001 18 34.8
Kidman Springs 32.8 33.7 in 2006 13 35.6
Rabbit Flat 31.8 = 31.8 in 2001 13 36.2
Territory Grape Farm 31.0 32.7 in 2001 13 34.5
Batchelor Aero 31.4 31.6 in 1997 12 32.9
Delamere Weapons Range 31.8 33.0 in 2000 12 34.4
Pine Creek Council 31.2 31.9 in 2007 10 33.3




Record highest March mean daily minimum temperature
Mean daily minimum
temperature
for March 2011 (°C)
Previous warmest
for March
Years of
record
Average for
March
Groote Eylandt Airport 24.9 24.6 in 2006 10 23.5



Record lowest March mean daily minimum temperature
Mean daily minimum
temperature
for March 2011 (°C)
Previous coolest
for March
Years of
record
Average for
March
Centre Island 25.3 25.4 in 1999 35 26.3




Summary statistics for March 2011
Maximum temperatures
for March
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
for March
(°C)
Rainfall
for March
(millimetres)
Mean for
March
2011
Diff
from
average
Highest for
March
2011
Mean for
March
2011
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
March
2011
Total for
March
2011
Average
for
March
Rank of
March
2011
Fraction of
March
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Aero 31.4 -1.5 33.9 24th 23.9 +0.6 22.6 9th 296.4 243.3 average 122%
Black Point 30.4 -1.0 31.5 24th 25.6 +0.1 23.8 5th 179.6 246.3 average 73%
Bradshaw 33.1   36.3 19th 24.7   22.7 27th 417.2
Central Arnhem Plateau 30.0   32.5 22nd 22.6   21.0 17th 383.4
Channel Point 30.7 -1.1 32.8 25th 25.1 +0.7 24.2 26th 317.2 377.8 average 84%
Darwin Airport 31.1 -0.8 33.3 24th 24.8 +0.3 23.6 9th 235.4 320.8 average 73%
Delamere Weapons Range 31.8 -2.6 34.2 15th 23.7 +0.6 22.0 29th 177.6 164.3 average 108%
Douglas River 31.8 -1.9 33.9 24th 24.0 +1.0 22.4 26th 154.8 231.0 average 67%
Dum In Mirrie 30.9 -0.7 33.3 25th 25.5 +0.5 23.6 26th 271.6 340.5 average 80%
Jabiru Airport 32.4 -1.1 35.2 25th 24.5 +0.2 22.9 28th 448.2 322.4 high 139%
Katherine Aviation Museum 31.9 -2.4 34.3 3rd 23.8 +0.7 21.6 26th 235.8 201.5 average 117%
Mango Farm 31.9 -2.0 33.9 19th 23.9 +0.3 21.6 8th 500.2 219.4 v high 228%
Middle Point 32.7   34.9 24th 24.3   23.3 25th 128.8
Noonamah 32.4   35.9 24th 24.1   23.3 18th 363.2
Oenpelli 31.8 -1.1 34.1 26th 24.9 +0.5 23.9 27th 355.7 280.3 high 127%
Pine Creek Council 31.2 -2.1 33.5 22nd 23.7 +0.3 22.0 5th 321.8 284.3 high 113%
Pirlangimpi 31.6 -0.3 33.5 23rd 24.4 +0.4 23.2 6th 357.0 360.7 average 99%
Point Fawcett 30.9 -0.8 32.9 24th 25.4 +0.5 23.2 27th 345.0 221.4 high 156%
Point Stuart 30.9   32.1 23rd 25.2   23.4 14th 303.6
Port Keats Aero 31.7   35.2 29th 24.8   23.5 29th 233.0
Tindal RAAF 32.2 -2.0 34.4 3rd 23.9 +0.9 21.4 26th 237.0 168.5 high 141%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Gove Airport 30.7 -0.5 33.1 21st 24.3 +0.4 22.8 11th 402.0 267.6 high 150%
Groote Eylandt Airport 31.8 -0.6 33.7 24th 24.9 +1.4 23.6 25th 273.6 331.5 average 83%
Maningrida Aero 31.2   33.5 25th 24.4   23.0 17th 496.2
Milingimbi 31.4   34.2 25th 24.6   23.3 27th 518.0
Ngayawili 30.9 -0.6 33.1 26th 25.1 +0.4 23.7 17th 315.0 289.4 average 109%
North East Island 31.3   33.2 23rd 25.7   23.6 27th 385.0 189.6 high 203%
Warruwi 30.9 -0.5 32.3 26th 25.0 -0.2 22.7 16th 371.6 238.2 high 156%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola 32.4 -1.1 36.0 21st 23.9 +0.6 21.6 25th 427.6 148.0 high 289%
Bulman 32.6   34.6 21st 23.9   22.7 17th 455.4
Centre Island 31.2 -1.7 33.4 22nd 25.3 -1.0 22.3 28th 525.8 263.4 high 200%
Daly Waters 31.8 -2.8 34.4 19th 23.2 +0.7 21.3 28th 339.8 107.3 v high 317%
Larrimah 32.1 -2.0 34.0 19th 23.3 +0.8 21.5 26th 362.6 152.5 v high 238%
McArthur River Mine 32.7 -2.3 36.0 21st 24.4 +1.1 22.6 25th 548.0 134.7 highest 407%
Ngukurr 32.7 -1.4 36.1 21st 24.4 +0.5 23.0 29th 457.7 170.6 v high 268%
Wollogorang 32.0 -2.5 35.5 21st 23.6 +0.9 20.9 25th 313.9 158.9 high 198%
Victoria (district 14F)
Kidman Springs 32.8 -2.8 35.5 19th 24.3 +1.0 21.2 26th 91.9 128.4 average 72%
Lajamanu 31.0 -3.8 34.1 19th 22.6 +0.6 18.7 29th 292.8 78.0 v high 375%
Timber Creek 32.8 -2.7 35.8 20th 24.6 +1.1 22.5 29th 266.7 162.0 high 165%
Victoria River Downs 32.5 -2.6 34.9 29th 24.1 +1.0 20.7 29th 170.2 108.2 high 157%
Wave Hill 31.4 -4.1 35.3 20th 23.0 +0.9 17.5 26th 340.8 116.9 v high 292%
Barkly (district 15A)
Brunette Downs 31.1 -4.1 34.9 18th 23.1 +0.8 19.3 27th 319.4 54.3 highest 588%
Tennant Creek Airport 30.4 -4.0 34.3 20th 22.3 -1.0 16.7 26th 213.8 54.3 v high 394%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 28.8 -3.9 35.3 7th 17.8 +0.3 8.0 28th 120.6 31.0 v high 389%
Arltunga 27.8   34.2 1st 18.2   9.8 29th 189.8 37.2 v high 510%
Curtin Springs 31.8 -2.0 36.0 8th 19.1 +0.7 11.2 28th 39.0 28.0 high 139%
Kulgera 30.1 -2.2 35.4 19th 17.1 -1.0 7.5 28th 19.4 32.0 average 61%
Papunya 31.1   37.7 9th 19.6   11.4 28th 120.5 47.1 high 256%
Rabbit Flat 31.8 -4.4 35.4 1st 21.6 0.0 15.1 26th 385.2 65.2 highest 591%
Territory Grape Farm 31.0 -3.5 35.8 1st 19.2 -0.5 9.9 27th 109.2 17.7 highest 617%
Walungurru 33.2   37.8 7th 22.8   17.3 26th 78.0
Yulara Aero 31.6 -2.9 35.9 7th 19.7 +0.6 12.4 28th 133.2 30.6 v high 435%
Offshore Islands (district 200)
Northern Endeavour 32.8 -0.1 34.0 21st 27.1 -0.2 25.0 1st

Notes

A Monthly Climate Summary is prepared to list the main features of the weather in Northern Territory using the most timely and accurate information available on the date of publication; it will generally not be updated. Later information, including data that has had greater opportunity for quality control, will be presented in the Monthly Weather Review, usually published in the fourth week of the month.

This statement has been prepared based on information available at 8 am on Friday 1 April 2011. Some checks have been made on the data, but it is possible that results will change as new information becomes available.

Averages are long-term means based on observations from the years 1800 to 2009. They are not shown for sites with less than 10 years of record in that time, as they cannot then be calculated reliably.
The median is sometimes more representative than the mean of long-term average rain.

The Rank indicates how rainfall this time compares with the climate record for the site, based on the decile ranking (very low rainfall is in decile 1, low in decile 2 or 3, average in decile 4 to 7, high in decile 8 or 9 and very high is in decile 10).
The Fraction of average shows how much rain has fallen this time as a percentage of the long-term mean.

Further information

Media
(03) 9669 4057
Enquiries