Northern Territory in January 2019: Very hot, very dry

Another very warm month across the Northern Territory, with the highest daytime and overnight temperatures recorded for any January. Apart from some parts in the northern half of the Territory, rainfall was generally well below average.

Record high maximum and minimum temperatures

  • Territory-wide, the mean maximum temperature was 3.71 °C above the long-term average, nearly a full degree higher than previously recorded during any January in the NT
  • Virtually the entire southern half of the Territory had their warmest January daytime temperatures on record: many sites had either their highest January mean daily maximum temperature on record or their highest January temperature on record
  • Walungurru Airport in the northern Lasseter District recorded a maximum temperature of 47.4 °C on the 3rd, the fourth highest temperature recorded in the NT for any month, and highest since 1960
  • The mean daily minimum temperature across the Territory was 2.82 °C above the long-term average, more than a degree above the previous highest on record in January; the mean temperature (maximum and minimum combined) was also more than a degree higher than any previous January on record at 3.27 °C above the long-term average
  • Nearly all locations south of the Top End had overnight temperatures very much above average, with many sites recording their highest January mean daily minimum temperature on record; several sites also had their warmest January night (highest daily minimum temperature) on record
  • Walungurru Airport reported an exceptionally high daily minimum temperature of 34.3 °C, which is the highest minimum temperature ever recorded in the NT in any month
  • Many sites set records for consecutive days of very high temperatures: Alice Springs Airport had 16 days in a row above 42 °C, beating its previous record of 11 consecutive days. Rabbit Flat, in the Tanami District, and Walungurru, broke their record for consecutive days above 40 °C, with 26 and 27 days, respectively
  • Further information about the heatwaves that affected large areas of the country can be found in the Special Climate Statement Widespread heatwaves during December 2018 and January 2019

Driest January since 2013

  • Averaged across the entire Northern Territory, rainfall was only 38% of the long-term January average
  • Nearly all sites south of the Top End had below averge rainfall during the month, and only a few isolated regions around the Top End recorded above average rainfall
  • Delayed onset of the Australian monsoon was the primary cause of the low rainfall during the month; monsoon onset occurred at Darwin on 23 January, but its effects were relatively brief and it dissipated over the NT within a few days of forming
  • Several sites had either their lowest total January rainfall on record or lowest total January rainfall for at least 20 years

Darwin Airport

  • Total rainfall for Darwin Airport was 363.0 mm, which is 85% of the long-term average of 429.4 mm
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Darwin Airport was 32.7 °C, which is 0.9 °C above the long-term average of 31.8 °C. The warmest day was 34.5 °C on the 12th, and the coolest day was on the 31st when the temperature reached 29.8 °C
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Darwin Airport was 25.3 °C, which is 0.5 °C above the long-term average of 24.8 °C. The coldest morning was 21.6 °C on the 6th, and the warmest morning was on the 12th when the minimum temperature was 28.9 °C

Alice Springs Airport

  • Total rainfall for Alice Springs Airport was 15.6 mm, which is 38% of the long-term average of 40.6 mm
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 41.5 °C, which is 5.1 °C above the long-term average of 36.4 °C and the highest on record. The warmest day was 45.6 °C on the 3rd, the equal highest temperature ever recorded, and the coolest day was on the 27th when the temperature reached 34.8 °C
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 25.0 °C, which is 3.5 °C above the long-term average of 21.5 °C. The coldest morning was 17.8 °C on the 8th, and the warmest morning was on the 17th when the minimum temperature was 30.4 °C

Severe Weather across the Northern Territory

  • Severe thunderstorms across the Tanami District generated a gust of 131 km/h at Rabbit Flat on the 3rd
  • Severe wind gusts with thunderstorms were recorded at Tindal (100 km/h) and Darwin Harbour (93 km/h) on 6 January
  • Jabiru Airport had severe gusts from thunderstorms on both the 10th (109 km/h) and 11th (102 km/h)
  • On the 26th, a storm produced 87.8 mm of rain in 1 hour at Wandie Creek, near Katherine, exceeding the 1 in 10 year rainfall rate for that region; Giles, near the NT/WA border recorded a gust of 113 km/h from a thunderstorm
  • Heavy rainfall of 78.5 mm fell in 1 hour at Daly River Police Station, exceeding its 1 in 10 year rainfall rate
  • On the 31st, 109 mm of rain fell in 2 hours at Upper Adelaide River, exceeding its 1 in 10 year rainfall rate, while a 94 km/h gust from a thunderstorm was recorded at Victoria River Downs

Further information

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Extremes in January 2019
Hottest day 47.4 °C at Walungurru Airport on the 3rd
Warmest days on average 43.0 °C at Walungurru Airport
Coolest days on average 31.2 °C at McCluer Island
Coldest day 26.8 °C at Central Arnhem Plateau on the 31st
Coldest night 14.0 °C at Kulgera on the 28th
Coolest nights on average 23.1 °C at Central Arnhem Plateau
Warmest nights on average 28.4 °C at Walungurru Airport
Warmest night 34.3 °C at Walungurru Airport on the 3rd
Warmest on average overall 35.7 °C at Walungurru Airport
Coolest on average overall 27.9 °C at Central Arnhem Plateau
Wettest overall 612.0 mm at Croker Island Airport
Wettest day 139.0 mm at Charles Point on the 27th
Strongest wind gust 131 km/h at Rabbit Flat on the 3rd

Maps
ObservedAnomalyDecile rank
Total
rainfall
Map of Rainfall totals Map of Percentage of normal rainfall Map of Rainfall deciles
Mean
daily
maximum
temperatures
Map of Mean maximum temperature Map of Anomaly in mean maximum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean maximum temperature
Mean
daily
minimum
temperatures
Map of Mean minimum temperature Map of Anomaly in mean minimum temperature Map of Decile rank of mean minimum temperature

Click on a map to show it full size in a pop-up window


Record lowest January total rainfall
New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
January
Tennant Creek Airport 1.2 2.2 in 1985 50 116.9
Gilnockie 37.2 38.3 in 1989 29 199.2

Lowest January total rainfall for at least 20 years
Observed
(mm)
Most recent
lower
Average for
January
Yuendumu 2.2 0.4 in 1989* 71.6
Territory Grape Farm 3.8 3.4 in 1994 63.7
Elliott 30.8 21.6 in 1992* 138.2
Jervois 6.2 3.7 in 1996 49.8

* note: there are gaps in the historical record at this site, so it is possible a lower value has gone unreported




Record highest January temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
January
Alice Springs Airport 45.6 on the 3rd 45.2 on the 3rd in 1960 78 36.4
Curtin Springs 46.5 on the 4th 46.4 on the 11th in 2013 55 37.8
Kulgera 47.0 on the 3rd 44.9 on the 8th in 2013 38 36.8
Yulara Airport 46.8 on the 3rd 46.4 on the 11th in 2013 32 38.4
Lajamanu Airport 46.2 on the 3rd 44.5 on the 3rd in 2014 27 37.1
Watarrka 45.5 on the 7th 45.3 on the 12th in 2013 27 38.3
Borroloola Airport 42.6 on the 3rd 42.3 on the 3rd in 2014 26 34.2
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 35.0 on the 20th 34.9 on the 10th in 2012 21 31.6
Bradshaw 42.8 on the 12th 41.5 on the 9th in 2014 20 35.1



Record highest January mean daily maximum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
January
Alice Springs Airport 41.5 40.0 in 2006 77 36.4
Curtin Springs 42.3 41.3 in 2006 54 37.8
Jervois 42.6 42.1 in 1990 49 38.4
Tennant Creek Airport 41.6 40.4 in 2008 49 36.6
Elliott 41.2 40.8 in 1985 37 37.3
Kulgera 42.0 40.5 in 2006 37 36.8
Yulara Airport 42.4 41.3 in 2013 31 38.4
Lajamanu Airport 42.3 40.6 in 2008 26 37.1
Territory Grape Farm 42.1 40.8 in 1994 26 37.3
Rabbit Flat 42.7 42.0 in 2013 22 38.4

Highest January mean daily maximum temperature for at least 20 years
Observed
(°C)
Most recent
higher
Average for
January
Victoria River Downs 38.8 39.0 in 1992 36.5



Record highest January daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
January
Wave Hill 31.1 on the 30th 30.0 on the 8th in 2013 46 24.4
Kulgera 32.0 on the 4th 31.8 on the 17th in 1998 38 22.0
Lajamanu Airport 33.2 on the 30th 29.5 on the 13th in 2013 27 24.1
Rabbit Flat 31.4 on the 30th 30.9 on the 25th in 2013 23 24.0



Record lowest January temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
January
Jabiru Airport 20.3 on the 11th 20.5 on the 2nd in 1973 43 24.7
Ngayawili 22.0 on the 31st = 22.0 on the 14th in 2009 20 25.7



Record highest January mean daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
January
Jervois 26.4 25.7 in 2013 49 22.9
Tennant Creek Airport 28.3 27.1 in 1988 49 24.9
Elliott 26.2 25.4 in 1990 37 24.2
Pirlangimpi Airport 25.8 25.6 in 2016 37 24.7
Lajamanu Airport 27.0 25.2 in 2013 26 24.1
Territory Grape Farm 25.1 23.9 in 2006 26 22.0
Rabbit Flat 26.6 26.1 in 1998 22 24.0



Record highest January mean temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
January
Alice Springs Airport 33.3 33.2 in 2006 77 28.9
Jervois 34.5 33.4 in 2013 49 30.6
Tennant Creek Airport 35.0 33.7 in 1971 49 30.8
Elliott 33.6 32.7 in 1988 37 30.7
Kulgera 33.6 = 33.6 in 2006 37 29.4
Yulara Airport 33.9 33.6 in 2006 31 30.6
Lajamanu Airport 34.6 32.9 in 2013 26 30.6
Territory Grape Farm 33.6 32.0 in 2008 26 29.6
Rabbit Flat 34.7 33.7 in 1998 22 31.2

Highest January mean temperature for at least 20 years
Observed
(°C)
Most recent
higher
Average for
January
Victoria River Downs 32.4 =32.4 in 1988 30.7



Summary statistics for January 2019
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean for
January
2019
Diff
from
average
Highest for
January
2019
Mean for
January
2019
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
January
2019
Total for
January
2019
Average
for
January
Rank of
January
2019
Fraction of
January
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Airport 33.5 +0.9 37.5 7th 24.4 +0.5 21.1 13th 337.6 331.7 average 102%
Central Arnhem Plateau 32.7 +1.0 36.2 7th 23.1 -0.2 20.7 29th 276.8 258.7 average 107%
Channel Point 32.5 +0.9 34.0 21st 25.5 +0.5 22.0 6th 340.8 459.8 average 74%
Charles Point 31.6   33.5 20th 25.7   21.1 6th 430.4
Croker Island Airport 31.4   33.1 7th 25.6   22.4 6th 612.0
Darwin Airport 32.7 +0.9 34.5 12th 25.3 +0.5 21.6 6th 363.0 429.4 average 85%
Delamere Weapons Range 36.4 +1.9 39.6 12th 24.7 +0.6 20.6 10th 151.6 204.0 average 74%
Douglas River Research Farm 34.8 +1.2 38.0 5th 24.5 +0.6 21.5 6th 216.2 290.0 average 75%
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 32.5 +0.9 35.0 20th 25.7 +0.1 21.4 6th 505.8 424.2 high 119%
Jabiru Airport 34.3 +0.7 37.0 6th 24.5 -0.2 20.3 11th 364.6 357.5 average 102%
McCluer Island 31.2 -0.3 33.2 7th 26.3 -0.3 23.1 6th 384.6 252.0 high 153%
Middle Point 34.2 +0.8 37.4 7th 24.4 +0.2 21.4 31st 358.6 310.9 average 115%
Mount Bundey North (Defence) 34.2   37.1 8th 24.5   22.1 30th 269.4
Mount Bundey South (Defence) 34.7   37.7 11th 24.6   22.3 17th 390.4
Murganella Airstrip 32.6   35.4 7th 24.4   22.1 6th 410.0
Noonamah Airstrip 33.4   36.9 7th 25.1   20.4 6th 266.2
Pirlangimpi Airport 32.6 +0.7 34.7 4th 25.8 +1.1 21.7 31st 203.4 410.1 v low 50%
Point Fawcett 32.3 +0.6 34.4 15th 26.3 +0.6 22.4 31st 228.8 330.8 average 69%
Point Stuart 32.7   34.9 12th 24.9   22.0 31st 417.4 297.0 high 141%
Port Keats Airport 33.4 +0.9 36.1 21st 25.5 +0.6 22.1 4th 236.0 312.2 average 76%
Tindal RAAF 35.5 +1.4 37.6 12th 24.1 -0.2 20.9 6th 180.8 263.6 average 69%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Cape Wessel 33.2   35.4 12th 26.1   23.7 31st 324.0 264.0 average 123%
Gove Airport 33.0 +1.0 36.5 10th 25.7 +1.0 23.2 26th 222.8 275.6 average 81%
Groote Eylandt Airport 34.2 +0.9 37.6 10th 25.8 +0.6 23.6 4th 229.0 245.2 average 93%
Milingimbi Airport 33.6 +0.8 37.1 4th 25.3 -0.2 23.5 11th 400.4 283.9 high 141%
Ngayawili 32.1 +0.4 33.6 18th 25.6 -0.1 22.0 31st 456.2 384.9 average 119%
Warruwi Airport 32.6 +0.5 34.9 11th 25.3 -0.3 22.4 30th 265.2 262.4 average 101%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola Airport 36.9 +2.7 42.6 3rd 25.3 +0.5 20.9 7th 148.6 214.6 average 69%
Bulman 35.7 +0.8 39.2 11th 24.4 -0.1 22.1 29th 282.2 230.9 high 122%
Centre Island 34.8 +1.1 39.5 10th 27.2 +0.5 24.6 25th 170.4 237.4 average 72%
Daly Waters Airstrip 39.0 +3.3 43.4 11th 24.7 +0.7 22.1 4th 55.2 166.1 low 33%
McArthur River Mine Airport 38.1 +2.2 43.0 10th 25.6 +0.6 22.0 7th 139.6 219.0 average 64%
Ngukurr Airport 37.9   42.4 3rd 25.8   21.4 5th 147.8
Victoria (district 14F)
Bradshaw 37.8 +2.7 42.8 12th 25.9 +0.9 22.9 27th 124.6 239.9 low 52%
Lajamanu Airport 42.3 +5.2 46.2 3rd 27.0 +2.9 21.4 13th 40.6 146.1 low 28%
Victoria River Downs 38.8 +2.3 43.5 11th 26.1 +1.2 21.2 7th 108.4 156.7 average 69%
Barkly (district 15A)
Elliott 41.2 +3.9 45.4 11th 26.2 +2.0 23.0 14th 30.8 138.2 low 22%
Tennant Creek Airport 41.6 +5.0 45.0 11th 28.3 +3.4 25.8 26th 1.2 116.9 lowest 1%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 41.5 +5.1 45.6 3rd 25.0 +3.5 17.8 8th 15.6 40.6 average 38%
Curtin Springs 42.3 +4.5 46.5 4th 24.8 +2.5 19.0 27th 0 29.5 lowest 0%
Jervois 42.6 +4.2 45.6 18th 26.4 +3.5 23.5 28th 6.2 49.8 low 12%
Kulgera 42.0 +5.2 47.0 3rd 25.5 +3.5 14.0 28th 3.0 29.4 low 10%
Rabbit Flat 42.7 +4.3 46.1 3rd 26.6 +2.6 21.0 4th 88.8 128.1 average 69%
Territory Grape Farm 42.1 +4.8 44.4 3rd 25.1 +3.1 21.1 9th 3.8 63.7 v low 6%
Walungurru Airport 43.0 +3.6 47.4 3rd 28.4 +2.4 20.8 5th 19.8 49.5 low 40%
Yulara Airport 42.4 +4.0 46.8 3rd 25.4 +2.6 19.1 8th 10.4 28.2 average 37%

Notes

The Monthly climate summary, generally published on the first working day of each month, lists 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. More extensive discussion of significant weather events, along with later information and data that has had greater opportunity for quality control, will be presented in the Monthly Weather Review.

This statement has been prepared based on information available at 1 pm on Friday 1 February 2019. Some checks have been made on the data, but it is possible that results will change as new information becomes available.

In some situations, some or all of the rainfall is in the form of hail or snow. In these cases the totals given are for the water equivalent: the depth of liquid water that results from melting any frozen precipitation. There can be significant 'undercatch' of snow in strong winds, meaning the true precipitation can be higher than that reported.

Averages for individual sites 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.

Where temperature area averages are mentioned, they are derived from the ACORN-SAT dataset.

Further information

Media
(03) 9669 4057
Enquiries