Northern Territory in May 2011: A dry season chill

  • Record cool nights in Darwin
  • Arltunga sets new NT minimum temperature record for May
  • Sub-Zero temperatures come early to Alice Springs

Cool nights around Darwin

Throughout May, as cool dry air pushed up from the southeast, both dew points and temperatures dropped around the Greater Darwin Area. At Darwin Airport the mean minimum temperature for May was only 19.9 °C which ties the record for coolest May minimums set in 1999. The mean temperature (maximum and minimum combined) also tied the record for the coolest May with 25.4 °C also measured in 1960. Furthermore there were a total of 12 nights that dropped below 20 °C with seven being consecutive during the last week of the month. The coolest night at Darwin Airport was on the 13th when the temperature dropped to 15.6 °C, which is 6.4 °C below average. The coolest May night on record at Darwin Airport was on 27 May 1990 with 13.8 °C.

Arltunga sets new monthly minimum temperature record

On the 28th the minimum temperature at Arltunga dropped to -3.8 °C breaking the long-held Northern Territory record for the coldest May minimum temperature of -3.0 °C set at Alice Springs Post Office on 27 May 1898. This new record was then broken again on the 31st when the minimum temperature at Arltunga dropped to -4.2 °C.

Alice Springs cold streak

On the 27th the minimum temperature at Alice Springs Airport dipped to -2.1, being the first time this year Alice Springs experienced sub-zero temperatures. The next five days continued to see daily minimums below 0 °C setting a record for the most consecutive May days below freezing. On average Alice Springs measures only about 1 °C day below 0 °C and 2 days below 2 °C in May. In an average winter (June, July, August) Alice Springs Airport has about 12 days below zero.

Rainfall

May marks the first month of the dry season in Northern Territory and therefore is typically quite dry. Darwin Airport measured 0.6 mm of rain in only one day and Alice Springs received 2.4 mm in 2 rain days.

The wettest single day was at Tobermorey with 18.0 mm on the 13th, followed by Yirrkala Tropical Gardens with 17.0 mm on the 3rd, and then Yirrkala Tropical Gardens with 13.0 mm on the 19th.

The wettest overall was Tobermorey with 56.0 mm, followed by Yirrkala Tropical Gardens with 40.0 mm, and then by Gove Airport with 16.2 mm.

Temperature

The mean temperatures were below average across the Territory with several sites having their lowest May mean temperature on record including Tennant Creek, and Katherine. Darwin Airport tied the record lowest mean May temperature of 25.4 °C set in 1960.

The warmest on average was at Jabiru Airport with 26.7 °C, followed by North East Island with 26.6 °C.

The coolest on average was Arltunga with 13.1 °C, followed by Alice Springs Airport with 13.4 °C, followed by Kulgera with 13.6 °C.

Some sites had their lowest May mean temperature for at least 10 years.

Maximum temperature

Primarily driven by a series of high pressure systems to the south, cool dry south easterly winds kept maximum temperatures quite low for most of the month across the Territory. Maximum temperatures were below average to very much below average for most of the NT, with five sites recording their lowest May mean daily maximum temperature on record including Brunette Downs and Centre Island.

The highest maximum temperature was on the 1st at Bradshaw with 34.5 °C followed by Jabiru Airport with 34.4 °C on the 3rd. Middle Point and Oenpelli also also had 34.4 °C on the 4th.

The warmest days on average were at Jabiru Airport with 32.5 °C, followed by Noonamah with 32.0 °C, followed by Milingimbi with 31.8 °C, followed by Pirlangimpi with 31.8 °C.

The coolest days on average were at Arltunga with 20.7 °C, followed by Kulgera with 20.9 °C, followed by Alice Springs Airport with 21.1 °C.

The coldest day was at Arltunga with 14.8 °C on the 26th, followed by Territory Grape Farm with 15.6 °C on the 26th, followed by Yuendumu with 15.9 °C on the 26th.

Minimum temperature

Minimum temperatures followed a similar pattern to the maximum temperatures although more extreme. Several locations around the territory had their lowest May mean daily minimum temperature on record including Darwin Airport and Tennant Creek Airport. Several significant May minimum temperature records were broken including the 113 year record for coldest May night that was set on 27 May 1898 at Alice Springs Post Office with -3.0 °C. Arltunga exceeded the record twice within the last week of the month with -3.8 °C on the 28th and then -4.2 °C on the 31st. Other than these record setting cold nights, the next coldest night was also at Arltunga with -2.8 °C on the 29th.

The coolest nights on average were at Arltunga with 5.3 °C, followed by Alice Springs Airport with 5.5 °C, and then Territory Grape Farm with 6.4 °C.

The warmest nights on average were at North East Island with 24.4 °C, followed by Warruwi with 22.6 °C.

Some sites, including Yuendumu and Groote Eylandt Airport, had their lowest May temperature on record.

Wind

The strongest wind gust was at Centre Island with 61 km/h on the 26th, followed by Walungurru with 57 km/h on the 2nd, and then Walungurru with 56 km/h on the 22nd, and Ngayawili with 56 km/h on the 25th.

Further information

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Extremes in May 2011
Hottest day 34.5 °C at Bradshaw on the 1st
Warmest days on average 32.5 °C at Jabiru Airport
Coolest days on average 20.7 °C at Arltunga
Coldest day 14.8 °C at Arltunga on the 26th
Coldest night -4.2 °C at Arltunga on the 31st
Coolest nights on average 5.3 °C at Arltunga
Warmest nights on average 24.4 °C at North East Island
Warmest night  
Warmest on average overall 26.7 °C at Jabiru Airport
Coolest on average overall 13.1 °C at Arltunga
Wettest overall 56.0 mm at Tobermorey
Wettest day 18.0 mm at Tobermorey on the 13th
Highest wind gust 61 km/h at Centre Island on the 26th


Record lowest May mean daily maximum temperature
Mean daily maximum
temperature
for May 2011 (°C)
Previous coolest
for May
Years of
record
Average for
May
Brunette Downs 26.7 26.8 in 2006 45 29.9
Centre Island 27.6 28.3 in 2006 35 29.5
Black Point 30.4 = 30.4 in 2000 17 31.2
Ngukurr 29.3 29.9 in 2006 16 31.9
Channel Point 29.3 29.5 in 2006 15 31.1




Record lowest May temperature
Lowest temperature
in May 2011 (°C)
Previous coolest
for May
Years of
record
Average for
May
Yuendumu 0.4 on the 27th 1.9 on the 24th in 2001 41 11.1
Daly Waters 4.8 on the 29th 5.4 on the 31st in 2006 40 16.1
Kulgera -2.1 on the 30th -1.9 on the 21st in 1985 28 9.1
Alyangula Police 14.4 on the 27th 14.7 on the 1st in 1999 27 21.2
Lajamanu 2.5 on the 28th 3.0 on the 30th in 2006 17 13.4
Borroloola 5.4 on the 28th = 5.4 on the 31st in 2001 16 15.8
Territory Grape Farm -1.7 on the 27th 1.4 on the 24th in 2006 16 9.4
Kidman Springs 5.7 on the 28th 7.5 on the 22nd in 2001 14 15.9
Delamere Weapons Range 9.0 on the 27th 11.0 on the 30th in 2000 13 17.6
Groote Eylandt Airport 10.6 on the 26th 10.9 on the 29th in 2006 11 18.5
Ngayawili 16.0 on the 12th = 16.0 on the 29th in 2006 10 21.9



Record lowest May mean daily minimum temperature
Mean daily minimum
temperature
for May 2011 (°C)
Previous coolest
for May
Years of
record
Average for
May
Darwin Airport 19.9 = 19.9 in 1999 68 22.1
Larrimah 12.2 = 12.2 in 2001 44 16.4
Warruwi 22.6 = 22.6 in 2001 44 24.0
Tennant Creek Airport 13.0 13.5 in 1976 40 16.4
Centre Island 20.3 21.2 in 1999 35 22.5
Alyangula Police 18.4 19.5 in 1994 27 21.2
Wollogorang 11.5 12.8 in 2008 26 16.0
Lajamanu 9.9 10.1 in 2001 17 13.4
Ngukurr 16.2 17.3 in 2008 17 19.3
Borroloola 11.5 11.8 in 2001 16 15.8
Kidman Springs 12.5 = 12.5 in 2008 14 15.9
Delamere Weapons Range 14.6 14.7 in 1999 13 17.6
Point Fawcett 18.0 18.4 in 2008 12 21.3
Groote Eylandt Airport 16.1 16.3 in 2008 11 18.5
Pine Creek Council 17.0 17.6 in 2008 10 19.5



Record lowest May mean temperature
Mean daily
temperature
for May 2011 (°C)
Previous coolest
for May
Years of
record
Average for
May
Darwin Airport 25.4 = 25.4 in 1960 68 27.1
Brunette Downs 19.0 19.6 in 1976 45 22.4
Larrimah 20.9 21.2 in 2006 44 24.1
Warruwi 26.3 = 26.3 in 1967 44 27.4
Daly Waters 20.1 20.8 in 1944 40 23.6
Tennant Creek Airport 19.2 19.3 in 2000 40 22.0
Centre Island 24.0 24.8 in 1999 35 26.0
Timber Creek 23.2 = 23.2 in 2008 29 25.6
Pirlangimpi 25.8 = 25.8 in 1991 26 26.9
Wollogorang 20.6 21.8 in 1976 26 23.7
Katherine Aviation Museum 22.0 22.1 in 2006 24 24.5
Lajamanu 18.8 19.3 in 2006 17 21.5
Borroloola 20.8 21.6 in 2001 16 24.1
Channel Point 23.9 24.4 in 2001 15 25.8
Kidman Springs 21.3 22.2 in 2006 14 24.2
Batchelor Aero 23.9 24.1 in 2008 12 25.8
Point Fawcett 24.2 24.7 in 2006 12 26.3
Dum In Mirrie 25.6 25.7 in 1999 11 26.9
Groote Eylandt Airport 23.1 23.8 in 2001 11 24.8
Pine Creek Council 23.6 23.7 in 2006 10 25.8



Summary statistics for May 2011
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean Diff
from
average
Highest Mean Diff
from
average
Lowest Total Average
Rank Fraction of
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Aero 30.9 -2.0 33.2 3rd 16.8 -1.9 10.8 31st 0 15.0 lowest 0%
Black Point 30.4 -0.8 32.1 23rd 22.2 -1.4 18.5 14th 2.6 37.4 average 7%
Bradshaw 31.3   34.5 1st 15.5   9.2 27th 0
Channel Point 29.3 -1.8 32.2 3rd 18.4 -2.0 14.3 27th 0 7.3 lowest 0%
Darwin Airport 30.8 -1.2 33.0 3rd 19.9 -2.2 15.6 13th 0.6 20.4 average 3%
Delamere Weapons Range 28.9 -2.7 32.7 3rd 14.6 -3.0 9.0 27th 0 2.6 lowest 0%
Douglas River 30.9 -2.3 33.5 3rd 14.8 -1.5 10.6 13th 0 8.3 lowest 0%
Dum In Mirrie 31.1 -1.0 34.0 4th 19.8 -2.0 15.1 31st 3.0 13.7 average 22%
Jabiru Airport 32.5 -1.0 34.4 3rd 20.7 -1.0 15.1 13th 4.0 10.5 average 38%
Katherine Aviation Museum 29.8 -2.4 33.1 8th 14.0 -2.7 7.7 28th 0 5.2 lowest 0%
Mango Farm 30.7 -2.3 33.4 3rd 16.7 -1.8 12.3 31st 0 8.4 lowest 0%
Middle Point 31.7   34.4 4th 16.5   11.0 13th 0
Noonamah 32.0   33.8 20th 17.0   12.1 27th 0
Pine Creek Council 30.0 -2.1 32.9 8th 17.0 -2.5 11.2 27th 0 3.4 lowest 0%
Pirlangimpi 31.8 -0.7 34.1 9th 19.6 -1.7 15.4 31st 6.6 21.5 low 31%
Point Fawcett 30.2 -1.1 32.4 2nd 18.0 -3.3 13.2 14th 2.8 27.2 average 10%
Port Keats Aero 31.5   34.2 4th 17.4   11.7 13th 0
Tindal RAAF 30.1 -2.0 33.1 2nd 14.0 -3.4 8.3 13th 0 1.1 lowest 0%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Alyangula Police 29.3 -1.4 32.0 3rd 18.4 -2.8 14.4 27th 12.6 34.1 average 37%
Gove Airport 29.6 -0.3 31.1 7th 21.4 -1.1 18.0 13th 16.2 90.1 average 18%
Groote Eylandt Airport 29.9 -1.2 33.0 3rd 16.1 -2.4 10.6 26th 4.4 19.8 low 22%
Maningrida Aero 31.7   34.3 3rd 19.8   14.4 26th 0
Milingimbi 31.8   34.3 4th 20.4   15.2 13th 0.4
Ngayawili 30.6 -0.4 32.4 23rd 21.2 -0.7 16.0 12th 0.6 40.3 low 1%
North East Island 28.7   31.4 1st 24.4   21.9 18th 13.2 44.1 average 30%
Warruwi 30.0 -0.7 32.3 24th 22.6 -1.4 19.9 26th 0.8 14.8 low 5%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola 30.0 -2.4 33.5 3rd 11.5 -4.3 5.4 28th 0.6 2.2 average 27%
Bulman 30.4   33.2 3rd 15.6   9.0 13th 0.6
Centre Island 27.6 -1.9 32.0 3rd 20.3 -2.2 16.1 27th 0.2 12.4 low 2%
Daly Waters 28.9 -2.2 32.3 3rd 11.4 -4.7 4.8 29th 0 7.5 lowest 0%
Larrimah 29.4 -2.4 32.4 3rd 12.2 -4.2 5.0 27th 0 8.3 lowest 0%
McArthur River Mine 30.3 -2.0 34.0 3rd 13.0 -3.4 6.6 28th 0 7.7 lowest 0%
Ngukurr 29.3 -2.6 32.2 23rd 16.2 -3.1 11.3 28th 0 10.6 lowest 0%
Wollogorang 29.6 -1.8 33.3 23rd 11.5 -4.5 4.9 28th 0 6.9 lowest 0%
Victoria (district 14F)
Kidman Springs 30.0 -2.6 33.5 3rd 12.5 -3.4 5.7 28th 0 4.3 lowest 0%
Lajamanu 27.5 -2.0 32.5 2nd 9.9 -3.5 2.5 28th 0 7.6 lowest 0%
Timber Creek 30.8 -2.2 34.2 8th 15.3 -3.0 8.2 28th 0 6.8 lowest 0%
Victoria River Downs 29.8 -2.1 33.3 3rd 11.3 -4.6 5.0 27th 0 5.7 lowest 0%
Wave Hill 28.3 -2.9 32.0 2nd 10.8 -4.2 4.1 28th 0 7.7 lowest 0%
Barkly (district 15A)
Brunette Downs 26.7 -3.2 31.1 2nd 11.4 -3.6 5.9 27th 0 8.1 lowest 0%
Tennant Creek Airport 25.2 -2.4 29.7 22nd 13.0 -3.4 8.5 26th 0.2 7.4 average 3%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 21.1 -1.9 29.8 1st 5.5 -2.8 -2.2 31st 2.4 19.2 average 13%
Arltunga 20.7   28.0 1st 5.3   -4.2 31st 2.8 20.2 average 14%
Curtin Springs 22.2 -1.5 29.0 20th 7.6 -1.0 0.0 31st 1.5 17.5 average 9%
Jervois 22.8 -2.6 30.4 1st 7.5 -2.4 1.0 28th 0 18.4 lowest 0%
Kulgera 20.9 -1.7 28.5 21st 6.6 -2.5 -2.1 30th 2.6 11.8 average 22%
Papunya 23.5   29.7 1st 9.1   1.7 31st 3.3 23.6 average 14%
Rabbit Flat 26.8 -2.5 32.2 2nd 9.9 -1.7 2.3 31st 0 8.9 lowest 0%
Territory Grape Farm 23.8 -1.8 29.9 1st 6.4 -3.0 -1.7 27th 0.4 25.3 average 2%
Walungurru 25.2   30.3 21st 13.1   9.3 27th 0.6
Yuendumu 23.9 -1.1 29.9 1st 8.2 -2.9 0.4 27th 6.5 23.7 average 27%
Yulara Aero 21.8 -2.5 28.3 19th 7.5 -2.0 2.9 29th 1.6 12.5 average 13%
Offshore Islands (district 200)
Northern Endeavour 31.4 -0.5 33.0 10th 27.5 +0.4 24.0 11th

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 Wednesday 1 June 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