Northern Territory in January 2012: A dry start

  • After a long break, Monsoon returns to Top End
  • Yulara sees coolest January on record
  • Darwin Airport sees 10 consecutive days without rain

Monsoon returns to Top End

In the last week of December the North Australian Monsoon was very active over the eastern half of Northern Australia. As January began the monsoon trough moved north, slowing the rainfall over land. By the end of the first week the monsoon trough had broken up with storm activity concentrated to the west and east of the Northern Territory while a pocket of dry air sat over the Top End. This pattern repeated itself as TC Heidi formed off the northwest coast of WA, again drawing storm activity away from the Top End. Toward the end of the month a strong westerly burst, aided by the Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO), reinvigorated the monsoon trough over northern Australia. This trough stretched from the central Indian Ocean to the western Pacific with five low pressure centres within it, including one over the Arafura Sea and one north of Western Australia. Heavy rains returned to the Top End reducing the monthly rainfall deficit.

Yulara has cool January

Yulara Aero ended the month with an average maximum temperature of 36.2 °C, their lowest January mean daily maximum temperature on record. January is typically the hottest month of the year at Yulara, with a long term average of 38.6 °C. .

Darwin dry spell

During the break in the monsoon, in the first half of the month, Darwin Airport had 10 days in a row without rain. This tied the record for the longest January dry spell at Darwin Airport, a record set in 1948.

Rainfall

The first two weeks marked the driest start to any year for most locations in the NT, especially locations along the north coast. By the 20th of the month most of the Top End was nearly 200 mm below the long term monthly average. But as the monsoon trough moved over in the last part of the month many stations received their average January rainfall within just a few days, especially in the western Top End. Dum-in-Mirrie had their highest total January rainfall on record. While no daily rainfall records were broken, on the 25th several locations received over 200 mm of rainfall including Stokes Hill, near the Darwin CBD, and Point Fawcett.

The wettest overall was Channel Point with 644.2 mm, followed by Geriatric Park with 585.6 mm, and then Majestic Orchids with 540.6 mm. The wettest single day was at Mallapunyah with 287.4 mm on the 27th, followed by Baileys Grave with 254.5 mm on the 27th, and then Stokes Hill with 229.4 mm on the 25th.

Even with the heavy rainfall near the end of the month, some sites had their lowest total January rainfall on record, including Alyangula Police and Howard Springs Nature Park. The driest overall was Bond Springs Turnoff with 3.0 mm, followed by Bullita with 4.8 mm, and then Wongalara with 7.7 mm. There is a map of rainfall deciles below.

Temperature

When combining maximum and minimum temperatures, the warmest on average was Rabbit Flat with 32.1 °C, followed by Kidman Springs with 32.0 °C, and then Victoria River Downs and Walungurru, both with 31.9 °C. The coolest on average was Central Arnhem Plateau with 27.9 °C, followed by Channel Point with 28.3 °C, and then Batchelor Aero with 28.4 °C. There were no new mean temperature records set this month.

Maximum temperature

For most of the month maximum temperatures in the north part of the NT were consistently 2 °C to 3 °C above average, until the monsoon rains began, at which point the temperatures dropped to a few degrees below average. Most sites in the Top End finished the month near the monthly average temperature, with a few exceptions. Bradshaw, Kidman Springs, and Delamere Weapons Range each had their highest January mean daily maximum temperature on record. During the monsoon break some sites had their highest January temperature on record, including Tindal RAAF and Pirlangimpi.

In the Alice Springs District the second week of the month saw some refreshingly cool days which helped lower the monthly average and even set a few records. On the 10th Yulara Aero had their coldest January day (lowest maximum temperature) on record with a daily maximum temperature of only 22.2 °C, this is 16.4 °C below their January average.

The hottest days were at Jervois with 43.6 °C on the 30th and 43.3 °C on the 6th. The next hottest day was at Rabbit Flat with 43.2 °C on the 19th, and Jervois also with 43.2 °C on the 21st. The warmest days on average were at Rabbit Flat with 39.9 °C, followed by Lajamanu with 39.3 °C, and then Jervois with 39.2 °C.

The coolest days on average were at McCluer Island with 31.6 °C, followed by Black Point with 31.8 °C, and then Point Fawcett with 31.9 °C. The coldest day was on the 10th when Kulgera had a maximum temperature of only 21.5 °C, Papunya had 22.0 °C, and Curtin Springs had 22.1 °C.

There is a map of mean maximum temperature anomalies below.

Minimum temperature

Two sites had their highest January mean daily minimum temperature on record; these were Ngukurr and Delamere Weapons Range. Batchelor Aero was the only site to have its lowest January mean daily minimum temperature on record.

The coldest night was at Arltunga with 15.0 °C on the 16th, followed by Curtin Springs with 15.5 °C on the 10th, and then Yulara Aero with 15.6 °C also on the 10th. The coolest nights on average were at Arltunga with 21.2 °C, followed by Alice Springs Airport with 21.6 °C, and then Yulara Aero with 21.7 °C.

The warmest nights on average were at North East Island with 27.1 °C, followed by Cape Don and Centre Island with 27.0 °C. The warmest night this month was at Jervois with 30.5 °C on the 7th.

There is a map of mean minimum temperature anomalies below.

Wind

The strongest wind gust anywhere in the NT this month was at Tennant Creek Airport with 117 km/h from a thunderstorm on the 23rd. This ties the record for strongest wind gust ever recorded at Tennant Creek Airport. The record of a 117 km/h wind gust, originally set on 15 January 1986, was met once before on 4 January 2004.

The next strongest wind gusts in the NT this month were both at Alice Springs Airport with 96 km/h on the 7th and again on the 18th. This was followed by a 94 km/h gust Bradshaw on the 17th.

Further information

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Extremes in January 2012
Hottest day 43.6 °C at Jervois on the 30th
Warmest days on average 39.9 °C at Rabbit Flat
Coolest days on average 31.6 °C at McCluer Island
Coldest day 21.5 °C at Kulgera on the 10th
Coldest night 15.0 °C at Arltunga on the 16th
Coolest nights on average 21.2 °C at Arltunga
Warmest nights on average 27.1 °C at North East Island
Warmest night 30.5 °C at Jervois on the 7th
Warmest on average overall 32.1 °C at Rabbit Flat
Coolest on average overall 27.9 °C at Central Arnhem Plateau
Wettest overall 644.2 mm at Channel Point
Driest overall 3.0 mm at Bond Springs Turnoff
Wettest day 287.4 mm at Mallapunyah on the 27th
Highest wind gust 117 km/h at Tennant Creek Airport on the 23rd

Maps

Anomaly in mean maximum temperature

Map of Anomaly in mean maximum temperature

Anomaly in mean minimum temperature

Map of Anomaly in mean minimum temperature

Rainfall deciles

Map of Rainfall deciles


Record highest total January rainfall
Total rainfall
for January 2012 (mm)
Previous wettest
for January
Years of
record
Average for
January
Dum In Mirrie AWS 506.4 489.2 in 2004 13 325.3



Record lowest total January rainfall
Total rainfall
for January 2012 (mm)
Previous driest
for January
Years of
record
Average for
January
Howard Springs Nature Park 117.2 152.6 in 1975 41 448.6
Douglas River 93.8 106.3 in 1970 35 274.4
Alyangula Police 21.2 29.7 in 1983 32 225.4
Gorrie 40.3 88.8 in 1989 24 217.4
Bing Bong Port 31.4 37.0 in 2000 14 253.2




Record highest January temperature
Highest temperature
in January 2012 (°C)
Previous warmest
for January
Years of
record
Average for
January
Pirlangimpi 35.6 on the 17th = 35.6 on the 1st in 2001 28 31.8
Tindal RAAF 40.2 on the 13th 39.8 on the 16th in 1992 22 34.0
Channel Point 34.9 on the 11th 34.2 on the 12th in 2003 15 31.7
Delamere Weapons Range 42.3 on the 13th 40.0 on the 9th in 2008 12 34.2
Dum In Mirrie AWS 34.9 on the 10th 34.0 on the 8th in 2003 11 31.6
Bradshaw 41.4 on the 13th 40.0 on the 26th in 2005 10 34.7



Record lowest January daily maximum temperature
Lowest daily maximum
temperature
in January 2012 (°C)
Previous coolest
for January
Years of
record
Average for
January
Yulara Aero 22.2 on the 10th 25.0 on the 17th in 1995 22 38.6
Dum In Mirrie AWS 27.0 on the 24th 28.0 on the 20th in 2006 11 31.6



Record highest January mean daily maximum temperature
Mean daily maximum
temperature
for January 2012 (°C)
Previous warmest
for January
Years of
record
Average for
January
Kidman Springs 38.4 38.1 in 2008 13 35.9
Delamere Weapons Range 37.3 35.9 in 2002 12 34.2
Bradshaw 36.6 35.9 in 2007 10 34.7




Record lowest January mean daily maximum temperature
Mean daily maximum
temperature
for January 2012 (°C)
Previous coolest
for January
Years of
record
Average for
January
Yulara Aero 36.2 36.5 in 1992 22 38.6



Record highest January mean daily minimum temperature
Mean daily minimum
temperature
for January 2012 (°C)
Previous warmest
for January
Years of
record
Average for
January
Ngukurr 25.8 25.5 in 1963 16 24.8
Delamere Weapons Range 24.7 24.5 in 2007 12 23.8



Record lowest January mean daily minimum temperature
Mean daily minimum
temperature
for January 2012 (°C)
Previous coolest
for January
Years of
record
Average for
January
Batchelor Aero 23.6 = 23.6 in 2003 13 24.0



Summary statistics for January 2012
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean Diff
from
average
Highest Mean Diff
from
average
Lowest Total Average
for
January
Rank Fraction of
January
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Aero 33.1 +0.3 36.1 14th 23.6 -0.4 21.7 14th 326.2 281.6 high 116%
Black Point 31.8 +0.3 34.2 17th 26.5 +0.6 24.0 29th 272.4 293.5 average 93%
Bradshaw 36.6 +1.9 41.4 13th 25.4 +0.6 21.2 26th 252.8 228.1 high 111%
Cape Don 32.6   35.4 17th 27.0   22.9 22nd 226.6 217.4 high 104%
Central Arnhem Plateau 32.5   37.7 13th 23.2   21.4 27th 185.6
Channel Point 32.2 +0.5 34.9 11th 24.5 -0.5 22.0 2nd 644.2 403.2 high 160%
Darwin Airport 32.6 +0.8 35.0 10th 24.9 +0.1 21.9 14th 454.6 420.3 average 108%
Delamere Weapons Range 37.3 +3.1 42.3 13th 24.7 +0.9 21.1 26th 103.8 189.0 v low 55%
Dum In Mirrie AWS 32.0 +0.4 34.9 10th 25.4 -0.3 22.8 14th 506.4 325.3 highest 156%
Jabiru Airport 34.1 +0.5 36.8 8th 25.0 +0.4 22.7 18th 275.2 351.2 average 78%
Mango Farm 34.5 +0.9 37.9 14th 23.3 -0.5 21.0 27th 339.6 334.0 average 102%
McCluer Island 31.6   34.0 17th 26.8   23.2 18th 262.6 214.4 high 122%
Middle Point AWS 33.4   36.1 13th 23.6   21.3 12th 399.2
Oenpelli 33.7 +0.6 36.2 15th 25.0 +0.5 22.6 12th 351.8 336.7 average 104%
Pirlangimpi 32.4 +0.6 35.6 17th 24.8 +0.2 22.4 3rd 474.4 403.7 average 118%
Point Fawcett 31.9 +0.3 33.7 9th 25.3 -0.5 23.0 5th 508.2 330.1 high 154%
Port Keats Aero 33.6   35.8 1st 25.2   22.5 26th 154.4
Tindal RAAF 35.4 +1.4 40.2 13th 24.8 +0.6 22.9 22nd 131.8 274.0 low 48%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Cape Wessel 32.4   34.7 13th 26.1   23.2 26th 32.4 219.1 low 15%
Gove Airport 32.7 +0.8 35.1 13th 24.9 +0.2 23.0 4th 117.6 281.1 v low 42%
Groote Eylandt Airport AWS 34.1 +0.9 37.0 16th 25.1 0.0 22.3 5th 142.8 247.4 low 58%
Milingimbi AWS 32.8   35.9 12th 25.8   24.0 31st 120.0
Ngayawili 32.2 +0.5 33.8 15th 26.2 +0.6 24.1 26th 225.4 385.4 low 58%
North East Island 33.3   35.8 13th 27.1   24.6 29th 62.4 113.0 average 55%
Warruwi 32.6 +0.6 35.2 13th 25.7 +0.1 23.0 18th 84.0 260.3 v low 32%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola 34.6 +0.6 38.3 16th 24.0 -0.8 22.1 11th 224.0 190.0 high 118%
Bulman AWS 36.2   39.3 15th 24.3   22.6 5th 56.8
Centre Island 34.3 +0.7 36.9 12th 27.0 +0.3 23.7 11th 206.0 219.7 average 94%
Daly Waters AWS 37.4 +1.6 40.9 16th 23.7 -0.3 21.2 16th 44.0 161.2 v low 27%
Larrimah 36.4 +1.1 40.0 16th 24.1 +0.1 22.5 6th 82.6 212.9 low 39%
McArthur River Mine 36.6 +0.7 40.6 16th 25.0 +0.2 23.2 18th 215.0 205.4 average 105%
Ngukurr 36.9 +1.4 41.9 17th 25.8 +1.0 23.4 18th 50.4 180.5 v low 28%
Wollogorang     37.9 1st 23.7 -0.5 18.7 17th 238.4 223.1 average 107%
Victoria (district 14F)
Kidman Springs 38.4 +2.5 42.8 13th 25.6 +0.6 20.8 26th 80.8 169.8 low 48%
Lajamanu 39.3 +2.2 42.1 17th 24.3 +0.3 20.2 26th 33.8 143.8 low 24%
Timber Creek 37.5 +1.6 41.8 13th 24.7 -0.3 21.2 26th 123.2 223.1 low 55%
Victoria River Downs 38.6 +2.0 42.6 13th 25.1 +0.2 20.4 20th 122.2 152.9 average 80%
Barkly (district 15A)
Brunette Downs 38.1 +1.1 40.2 21st 24.2 -0.3 22.0 3rd 55.0 106.4 average 52%
Elliott 37.7 +0.1 41.0 16th 23.9 -0.2 21.5 15th 75.9 134.8 average 56%
Tennant Creek Airport 37.5 +0.8 40.5 30th 25.3 +0.3 20.8 11th 32.6 113.5 low 29%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 37.6 +1.2 42.7 4th 21.6 +0.2 15.7 11th 26.8 37.2 average 72%
Arltunga 36.4   40.9 6th 21.2   15.0 16th 16.4 39.9 average 41%
Curtin Springs 36.6 -1.2 42.0 20th 22.2 +0.1 15.5 10th 38.5 28.4 high 136%
Jervois 39.2 +0.7 43.6 30th 24.2 +1.6 19.1 18th 8.4 48.2 low 17%
Kulgera 36.7 0.0 42.2 20th 22.7 +0.7 16.0 10th 14.5 30.5 average 48%
Papunya 36.8   41.2 4th 22.7   17.0 11th 88.4 42.3 v high 209%
Rabbit Flat 39.9 +1.4 43.2 19th 24.3 +0.3 20.4 15th 30.6 118.8 low 26%
Territory Grape Farm 37.9 +0.4 41.6 30th 23.1 +1.4 19.3 11th 64.0 47.6 high 134%
Walungurru 38.8   43.1 21st 25.1   18.1 10th 53.6
Yulara Aero 36.2 -2.4 42.2 1st 21.7 -0.9 15.6 10th 45.6 24.8 high 184%
Offshore Islands (district 200)
Northern Endeavour 33.3   35.0 26th 27.4   23.0 25th

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 10 am on Wednesday 1 February 2012. 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