Northern Territory in May 2012: Cool start to the dry

  • Rain eases in the north
  • Dry season arrives in Top End
  • Darwin Airport lowest maximum in 31 years

Rain eases in the north coast

A tropical low located over the Timor Sea with the associated rain band affected the north coast in the beginning of the month. However, the tropical low moved further northwest as the cool and dry southeast wind flow settled in the Territory.

Dry season

The month of May marks the official beginning of the dry season conditions across tropical Australia. A series of high pressure cells in the Bight directed cool, dry and windy southeast wind flow across most parts of the Territory throughout the month. This southeasterly burst brought low temperatures to the NT with a few records observed.

Rainfall

Rainbands associated with a tropical low located over the Timor Sea in the beginning of the month, recorded significant rainfall totals along the north coast. Some of these totals included 36.6mm on the 10th over Jabiru Airport, breaking the previous record of 22.2 mm set on the 22 of May 1990. Wagait Beach had 48.2 mm on the 3rd which broke the old record of 37.0 mm set on 20 April 2004..

Yirrkala Tropical Gardens had the highest total this month with 187.0 mm, followed by Gove Airport with 170.6 mm, and then McCluer Island with 143.4 mm.The wettest single day was at McCluer Island with 90.6 mm on the 10th, followed by Yirrkala Tropical Gardens with 62.0 mm on the 25th, and then Darwin Hospital with 52.0 mm on the 3rd.

Temperature

The mean temperature (average of maximum and minimum) for the Northern Territory for May 2012 was 20.5 °C which is 1.4 ° C below the long term average. The warmest on average was Cape Don with 27.7 °C, followed by Cape Wessel with 27.3 °C, and then Jabiru Airport and North East Island with both 27.1 °C. The coolest on average was Alice Springs Airport with 13.9 °C, followed by Arltunga with 14.0 °C, and followed by Curtin Springs and Yulara Aero with 15.1 °C.

Maximum temperature

The month began with warm temperatures in the Top End, with several locations measuring above 35 °C but gradually drop through the month. On the 29th, Darwin Airport recorded the lowest maximum of 24.8 °C, the lowest sence 20 May 1981 when the maximum temperature was 22.7 °C. Gove airport measured the third coolest May on record with a monthly average maximum temperature of 28.7 °C, this is 1.2 °C below average. The record is 28.4 °C set in May of 2006.

On the 2nd, Bradshaw recorded the hottest day of the month with 35.4 °C followed by Noonamah with 35.1 °C, and then Oenpelli with 35.0 °C on the 1st, Jabiru Airport and Katherine Country Club also had a dialy maximum temperature of 35.0 °C, but it was recorded on the 2nd. The warmest days on average around the Territory were at Middle Point with 32.7 °C, followed by Noonamah with 32.3 °C, and then Bradshaw and Jabiru Airport both had 32.1 °C.

The coolest days on average in the NT this month were at Arltunga with 22.5 °C, followed by Kulgera with 23.2 °C, and then Alice Springs Airport with 23.4 °C. Arltunga had the coldest days with a daily maximum temperature of 15.3 °C on the 24th and 16.0 °C on the 25th. This was followed by Alice Springs Airport with 16.8 °C on the 24th.

Minimum temperature

The average minimum temperature across the whole Territory was 13.6 °C which is 1.9 below the long term average for May. A series of high pressure systems that moved cross the Bight through the month directed cool and dry southeast wind flow into the Territory keeping temperatures below average. Darwin Airport reported a total of 11 nights below 20 °C, with the lowest minimum of 17.1°C on the 30th of this month.

The coldest night was at Arltunga with -2.7 °C on the 17th, followed by Arltunga with -1.0 °C on the 26th, and then Arltunga with -0.8 °C on the 18th. The coolest nights on average were at Alice Springs Airport with 4.5 °C, followed by Arltunga with 5.5 °C, and then Curtin Springs with 5.8 °C.

The warmest nights on average were at North East Island with 25.2 °C, followed by Cape Don and Cape Wessel with 24.9 °C, and then McCluer Island with 24.4 °C. The warmest nights were at North East Island with 27.2 °C on the 5th, 26.9 °C on the 13th and 14th, and then 26.4°C on the 12th. Cape Don also had some nights of 26.4 °C on the 5th, 15th and again on the 24th.

Wind

The strongest wind gusts were all at Cape Wessel this month with 78 km/h on the 25th, followed by 70 km/h on the 26th, and then 69 km/h on the 3rd.

Further information

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Extremes in May 2012
Hottest day 35.4 °C at Bradshaw on the 2nd
Warmest days on average 32.7 °C at Middle Point
Coolest days on average 22.5 °C at Arltunga
Coldest day 15.3 °C at Arltunga on the 24th
Coldest night -2.7 °C at Arltunga on the 17th
Coolest nights on average 4.5 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Warmest nights on average 25.2 °C at North East Island
Warmest night 27.2 °C at North East Island on the 5th
Warmest on average overall 27.7 °C at Cape Don
Coolest on average overall 13.9 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Wettest overall 187.0 mm at Yirrkala Tropical Gardens
Wettest day 90.6 mm at McCluer Island on the 10th
Highest wind gust 78 km/h at Cape Wessel on the 25th

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 May daily rainfall
Highest daily rainfall
in May 2012 (mm)
Previous wettest
for May
Years of
record
Jabiru Airport 36.6 on the 10th 22.2 on the 22nd in 1990 37
Wagait Beach 48.2 on the 3rd 37.0 on the 20th in 2004 24



Record highest total May rainfall
Total rainfall
for May 2012 (mm)
Previous wettest
for May
Years of
record
Average for
May
Leanyer 58.6 57.6 in 2007 23 15.5



Record lowest May daily maximum temperature
Lowest daily maximum
temperature
in May 2012 (°C)
Previous coolest
for May
Years of
record
Average for
May
Centre Island 20.6 on the 25th 21.6 on the 20th in 1981 38 29.5
Jabiru Airport 23.7 on the 29th 26.6 on the 30th in 2004 37 33.5
Gove Airport 24.2 on the 25th 25.0 on the 31st in 1967 34 29.9
Mango Farm 23.9 on the 29th 24.0 on the 30th in 2004 33 33.0
Alyangula Police 23.5 on the 26th 24.5 on the 31st in 2000 30 30.6
Pirlangimpi 25.2 on the 29th 25.4 on the 20th in 1981 29 32.4
Wollogorang 18.1 on the 25th 23.5 on the 31st in 2000 29 31.3
Douglas River 23.8 on the 29th 24.5 on the 30th in 2004 22 33.1



Record lowest May mean daily maximum temperature
Mean daily maximum
temperature
for May 2012 (°C)
Previous coolest
for May
Years of
record
Average for
May
Jabiru Airport 32.1 = 32.1 in 1983 36 33.5



Record lowest May temperature
Lowest temperature
in May 2012 (°C)
Previous coolest
for May
Years of
record
Average for
May
Victoria River Downs 4.0 on the 27th 4.5 on the 30th in 2006 46 15.9
Yulara Aero 1.1 on the 24th 1.3 on the 24th in 1994 25 9.4



Record lowest May mean daily minimum temperature
Mean daily minimum
temperature
for May 2012 (°C)
Previous coolest
for May
Years of
record
Average for
May
Yulara Aero 6.0 6.5 in 1994 24 9.4



Summary statistics for May 2012
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean Diff
from
average
Highest Mean Diff
from
average
Lowest Total Long-term Average
Rank Fraction of
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Aero 31.1 -1.7 33.7 2nd 18.0 -0.8 11.6 17th 43.2 17.6 high 245%
Black Point     32.3 4th 23.9 +0.3 21.3 19th 89.4 37.2 v high 240%
Bradshaw 32.1 -1.2 35.4 2nd 16.4 -1.8 8.3 30th 0 20.6 v low 0%
Cape Don 30.4   33.3 2nd 24.9   22.8 30th 76.0 32.9 high 231%
Central Arnhem Plateau 29.1   32.1 1st 18.6   13.9 19th 7.8
Channel Point 29.9 -1.1 32.0 13th 19.8 -0.6 14.3 30th 9.1 11.5 high 79%
Darwin Airport 31.1 -0.9 33.1 13th 21.2 -0.9 17.1 30th 52.2 21.2 high 246%
Delamere Weapons Range 30.1 -1.3 33.8 2nd 17.4 -0.3 11.7 27th 0 6.0 v low 0%
Douglas River 30.7 -2.4 33.5 13th 16.5 +0.1 11.0 18th 0.8 10.4 average 8%
Dum In Mirrie AWS 31.9 -0.2 34.5 4th 21.1 -0.5 15.1 18th 4.6 13.8 average 33%
Jabiru Airport 32.1 -1.4 35.0 2nd 22.1 +0.4 19.0 17th 70.2 11.7 v high 600%
Katherine Country Club 31.2   35.0 2nd 17.2   9.9 17th 2.8
Mango Farm 31.1 -1.9 33.8 13th 17.6 -0.9 12.4 28th 6.0 8.7 high 69%
McCluer Island 28.8 -0.5 30.4 1st 24.4 -0.5 21.3 26th 143.4 44.4 high 323%
Middle Point AWS 32.7 -0.6 34.8 4th 18.3 -0.8 13.3 18th 12.0 15.6 average 77%
Noonamah AWS 32.3   35.1 2nd 19.2   14.1 18th 22.4
Oenpelli 31.7 -1.6 35.0 1st 22.2 +0.3 18.0 17th 42.6 14.3 high 298%
Pirlangimpi 31.2 -1.2 34.2 4th 21.3 0.0 17.6 18th 42.2 22.3 high 189%
Port Keats Aero 31.5 -1.4 34.5 2nd 19.5 +0.4 12.4 30th
Tindal RAAF 30.9 -1.1 34.5 2nd 16.9 -0.5 10.4 28th 5.0 1.4 v high 357%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Cape Wessel 29.7   31.4 9th 24.9   22.8 25th 1.0 87.8 low 1%
Gove Airport 28.7 -1.2 31.0 4th 23.1 +0.6 20.9 27th 171.8 89.3 high 192%
Groote Eylandt Airport AWS 29.5 -1.5 32.4 14th 20.2 +1.6 15.8 18th 76.4 25.6 v high 298%
Maningrida Aero 30.9   33.5 4th 21.7   18.0 28th 32.4
Milingimbi AWS 31.4   34.0 4th 21.9   18.0 28th 27.6
Ngayawili 30.0 -1.0 31.8 4th 22.7 +0.7 18.3 22nd 15.6 33.2 average 47%
North East Island 28.9   31.4 1st 25.2   21.2 25th 94.6 44.9 high 211%
Warruwi 30.3 -0.4 32.5 4th 23.5 -0.5 20.5 26th 1.4 14.6 low 10%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola 30.7 -1.5 34.8 2nd 14.0 -1.7 5.6 28th 49.6 4.7 v high 1055%
Bulman AWS 30.5   33.5 3rd 18.4   12.5 22nd 38.8
Centre Island 27.7 -1.8 31.0 2nd 21.5 -1.0 15.9 26th 24.2 12.1 high 200%
McArthur River Mine 30.7 -1.5 33.9 13th 15.3 -1.2 6.8 28th 25.0 7.7 v high 325%
Ngukurr 29.7 -2.1 34.2 15th     13.1 28th 4.4 10.7 average 41%
Wollogorang 29.2 -2.1 34.2 2nd 15.1 -0.8 8.8 28th 62.9 8.2 v high 767%
Victoria (district 14F)
Kidman Springs 30.6 -1.8 34.4 2nd 14.5 -1.5 8.0 31st 0 5.7 lowest 0%
Lajamanu 27.8 -1.5 32.0 10th 11.2 -2.2 4.0 17th 0 9.0 lowest 0%
Timber Creek 31.5 -1.4 34.9 11th 16.9 -1.4 9.0 30th 0 8.0 lowest 0%
Victoria River Downs 30.5 -1.3 34.4 2nd 12.5 -3.4 4.0 27th 0 6.0 lowest 0%
Wave Hill 29.5 -1.6 33.0 2nd     4.9 27th 0 8.8 lowest 0%
Barkly (district 15A)
Brunette Downs 29.0 -0.8 33.8 9th 13.6 -1.4 6.8 28th 0 8.0 lowest 0%
Elliott 29.4 -2.0 33.0 11th 14.4 -1.5 7.5 27th 0 7.3 lowest 0%
Tennant Creek Airport 26.3 -1.2 30.3 10th 15.1 -1.2 8.8 25th 0 8.2 lowest 0%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 23.4 +0.4 31.1 9th 4.5 -3.7 -0.1 25th 0 18.5 lowest 0%
Arltunga 22.5 -0.4 29.5 10th 5.5 -2.5 -2.7 17th 0 19.7 lowest 0%
Curtin Springs 24.5 +0.8 31.8 10th 5.8 -2.8 0.7 17th 0 16.9 lowest 0%
Jervois 24.8 -0.5 31.7 10th 8.6 -1.3 3.0 26th 0 17.6 lowest 0%
Kulgera 23.2 +0.6 31.1 9th 6.6 -2.4 0.1 30th 0 11.1 lowest 0%
Papunya 25.1 -0.8 31.4 10th 8.9 -1.4 3.1 17th 0 22.8 lowest 0%
Rabbit Flat 28.0 -1.0 32.7 10th 8.9 -2.8 3.3 18th 0 11.0 v low 0%
Territory Grape Farm 24.5 -0.9 30.2 11th 7.7 -1.6 2.4 25th 0 23.7 lowest 0%
Walungurru 27.2 -0.2 33.4 9th 13.2 -2.4 6.7 26th 0 15.6 v low 0%
Yulara Aero 24.1 -0.1 31.7 9th 6.0 -3.4 1.1 24th 0 11.4 lowest 0%

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 Thursday 31 May 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 all available years of record, which vary widely from site to site. They are not shown for sites with less than 10 years of record, 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