Northern Territory in May 2019: Unseasonable rain in the north, warm start to dry season

After a relatively dry wet season, May 2019, the first month of this year's dry season, saw moderate rainfall totals across many parts of the Northern Territory. Rainfall was very much above average across parts of the Top End, and an area in the far south of the NT. Overall, daytime and overnight temperatures were generally warmer than average, but there were some regions which were cooler than normal during the month.

Above average rainfall across north at start of month, widespread falls in south around mid-May

  • Out-of-season tropical activity at the start of May saw a tropical trough develop off the north coast, eventually leading to the formation of tropical cyclone Lili, which formed north of Darwin and tracked towards Timor Leste. This resulted in widespread rainfall across the Top End, extending into the Carpentaria and Barkly districts during the first week of May: some sites had their highest May daily rainfall on record
  • Some sites near the southern Top End had their highest total May rainfall for at least 20 years
  • Around the middle of the month, a deep surface and upper-level trough tapped into tropical moisture to Australia's north and delivered some substantial rainfall to the far south of the Territory on the 18th and 19th, causing the Todd River to flow in some places
  • Large swathes of the NT away from the north and far south saw average to below average rainfall during the month so, Territory-wide, rainfall was only 1% above the long-term average

Generally warmer than average temperatures, but variable across the Northern Territory

  • Averaged over the Northern Territory, daytime and overnight temperatures were above average, but significantly less so, relatively speaking, compared to recent months: the mean daily maximum was 0.55 °C above average, the mean minimum was 1.04 °C above average, while the mean (combined maximum and minimum) temperature was 0.79 °C above the long-term average
  • Daytime temperatures were generally warmer than normal across the eastern half of the NT and the base of the Top End, will a small patch of below-average temperatures along the southeastern border region. It was close to average elsewhere
  • Much of the northern two-thirds of the NT experienced above average overnight temperatures, with a large area covering much of the Victoria River Downs District and adjacent parts observing very much above average mean minimum temperatures. Further south, overnight temperatures were near average apart from a small area in the far south which saw below average minimum temperatures in May

Darwin Airport

  • Total rainfall for Darwin Airport was 31.8 mm, which is 150% of the long-term average of 21.2 mm
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Darwin Airport was 32.3 °C, which is 0.2 °C above the long-term average of 32.1 °C. The warmest day was 34.1 °C on the 16th, and the coolest day was on the 10th when the temperature reached 29.2 °C
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Darwin Airport was 22.9 °C, which is 0.7 °C above the long-term average of 22.2 °C. The coldest morning was 20.2 °C on the 29th, and the warmest morning was on the 5th when the minimum temperature was 25.6 °C

Alice Springs Airport

  • Total rainfall for Alice Springs Airport was 29.0 mm, which is 156% of the long-term average of 18.6 mm
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 23.6 °C, which is 0.5 °C above the long-term average of 23.1 °C. The warmest day was 31.3 °C on the 17th, and the coolest day was on the 31st when the temperature reached 14.9 °C
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 8.3 °C, which is 0.1 °C above the long-term average of 8.2 °C. The coldest morning was 1.0 °C on the 12th, and the warmest morning was on the 18th when the minimum temperature was 18.4 °C

Tropical cyclone Lili briefly in Northern Territory's region

  • Lili formed on 9 May, well north of Darwin in Indonesia's area of responsibility, before tracking southwest through Australia's northern region on 10 May as a category 1 system. It weakened to below tropical cyclone strength later on the 10th without making landfall on any part of the Northern Territory, before impacting Timor Leste as a tropical low
  • Including Lili, the 2018-19 period saw a total of four tropical cyclones in Australia's northern region, exceeding the average of between two and three storms per season

Further information

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Extremes in May 2019
Hottest day 37.6 °C at Bradshaw on the 1st
Warmest days on average 34.5 °C at Bradshaw
Coolest days on average 22.9 °C at Arltunga
Coldest day 14.0 °C at Arltunga on the 31st
Coldest night -1.0 °C at Kulgera on the 31st
Coolest nights on average 7.7 °C at Kulgera
Warmest nights on average 25.5 °C at Cape Wessel
Warmest night 27.0 °C at Cape Wessel on the 4th
Warmest on average overall 28.1 °C at Cape Wessel
Coolest on average overall 15.6 °C at Arltunga
Wettest overall 144.0 mm at Alcan Minesite
Wettest day 69.8 mm at Larrimah on the 4th
Strongest wind gust 76 km/h at Walungurru Airport on the 17th

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

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Record highest May daily rainfall
New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Borroloola Airport 42.0 on the 4th 26.2 on the 10th in 2016 25
Geriatric Park 47.4 on the 4th =47.4 on the 4th in 2014 21



Highest May total rainfall for at least 20 years
Observed
(mm)
Most recent
higher
Average for
May
Larrimah 69.8 197.2 in 1968* 9.8
Delamere 36.4 51.0 in 1986* 5.0

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




Record highest May daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
May
Point Fawcett 26.3 on the 10th 26.1 on the 17th in 2010 21 21.2



Summary statistics for May 2019
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean for
May
2019
Diff
from
average
Highest for
May
2019
Mean for
May
2019
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
May
2019
Total for
May
2019
Average
for
May
Rank of
May
2019
Fraction of
May
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Airport 32.3 -0.6 34.3 16th 19.8 +0.7 14.7 29th 82.8 27.3 high 303%
Black Point 31.0 -0.3 32.9 5th 24.2 +0.4 21.6 29th 42.6 34.8 high 122%
Central Arnhem Plateau 30.2 -0.3 32.2 16th 19.6 +0.2 14.7 28th 11.0 10.7 high 103%
Channel Point 31.6 +0.4 35.0 21st 21.0 +0.3 17.0 13th 26.0 13.8 high 188%
Charles Point 31.7   34.8 22nd 23.4   20.8 29th 44.6
Croker Island Airport 30.8   32.9 15th 24.0   20.6 28th 38.8
Darwin Airport 32.3 +0.2 34.1 16th 22.9 +0.7 20.2 29th 31.8 21.2 high 150%
Delamere Weapons Range 32.6 +0.9 35.9 2nd 19.9 +1.8 15.0 31st 5.2 4.4 high 118%
Douglas River Research Farm 33.5 +0.2 35.9 21st 17.3 +0.6 12.4 13th 8.6 9.9 high 87%
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 32.5 +0.2 34.7 21st 22.0 +0.1 17.3 29th 61.4 24.7 high 249%
Jabiru Airport 33.2 -0.4 35.5 16th 22.7 +0.8 18.9 28th 63.8 17.1 v high 373%
Kangaroo Flats (Defence) 33.0   34.8 20th 20.8   16.1 29th 64.0
McCluer Island 29.4 -0.1 31.6 1st 25.4 +0.2 23.3 12th 61.4 49.1 average 125%
Middle Point 33.3 -0.1 35.0 15th 19.6 +0.4 13.6 29th 20.6 21.4 average 96%
Mount Bundey North (Defence) 33.3   35.5 16th 21.6   18.6 29th 21.4
Mount Bundey South (Defence) 33.6   35.9 16th 19.2   14.5 28th 25.6
Murganella Airstrip 31.8   34.4 15th 21.0   14.7 28th 39.6
Noonamah Airstrip 33.7   35.6 16th 20.9   15.3 29th 5.8
Oenpelli Airport 33.6   35.8 16th 22.4   17.5 28th 86.2
Pirlangimpi Airport 31.9 -0.7 34.0 16th 22.5 +1.0 19.2 28th 37.2 21.6 high 172%
Point Fawcett 31.6 0.0 34.5 16th 21.7 +0.5 17.0 28th 50.6 35.6 average 142%
Point Stuart 31.9   33.5 15th 21.6   18.1 28th 29.2 17.6 high 166%
Port Keats Airport 32.9 -0.1 35.5 16th 20.0 +0.6 13.6 31st 17.0 19.6 high 87%
Tindal RAAF 33.2 +0.9 35.8 1st 18.1 +0.7 13.3 29th 1.0 2.1 high 48%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Cape Wessel 30.8   32.2 15th 25.5   23.7 31st 118.2 93.0 high 127%
Gove Airport 29.7 -0.3 30.8 15th 23.7 +1.0 20.3 15th 139.0 86.8 high 160%
Groote Eylandt Airport 30.3 -0.7 32.8 1st 20.6 +1.4 16.4 27th 34.4 33.1 average 104%
Maningrida Airport 31.5 -0.5 33.5 16th 22.0 +0.1 18.3 12th 61.2 25.2 high 243%
Milingimbi Airport 32.7 +0.8 34.7 16th 22.6 +0.1 19.3 12th 12.4 26.9 low 46%
Ngayawili 30.4 -0.8 32.1 15th 23.1 +0.7 19.7 12th 72.8 29.4 high 248%
Warruwi Airport 31.0 +0.2 33.0 15th 24.3 +0.2 21.5 12th 61.2 16.3 v high 375%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola Airport 32.4 -0.1 34.9 15th 16.4 +0.5 11.3 9th 42.0 8.0 high 525%
Bulman 31.6 -1.0 34.6 16th 19.1 +0.7 13.4 12th 35.0 19.4 high 180%
Centre Island 29.4 -0.1 32.2 4th 23.0 +0.4 18.3 11th 5.0 11.4 average 44%
Daly Waters Airstrip 32.4 +1.1 36.2 2nd 17.6 +1.7 9.4 7th 7.4 6.5 high 114%
McArthur River Mine Airport 32.4 0.0 35.3 16th 18.0 +1.3 12.6 7th 4.0 7.1 high 56%
Ngukurr Airport 32.8   35.6 15th 19.5   14.3 12th 5.4
Victoria (district 14F)
Bradshaw 34.5 +0.7 37.6 1st 20.1 +1.4 14.1 30th 3.6 13.3 high 27%
Bradshaw - Angallari Valley (Defence) 34.1   37.5 17th 21.3   15.6 31st 8.8
Lajamanu Airport 30.9 +1.2 35.5 17th 17.1 +3.6 10.0 29th 4.0 8.1 average 49%
Victoria River Downs 33.0 +1.0 37.2 17th 17.5 +1.7 10.3 30th 3.0 5.8 high 52%
Wave Hill 31.5 +0.3 36.0 17th 18.2 +3.1 10.3 7th 42.7 9.0 v high 474%
Barkly (district 15A)
Elliott 31.0 -0.3 35.8 17th 18.4 +2.4 12.0 30th 3.0 6.6 high 45%
Tennant Creek Airport 28.1 +0.4 34.1 17th 17.3 +0.9 10.4 11th 10.6 8.2 high 129%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 23.6 +0.5 31.3 17th 8.3 +0.1 1.0 12th 29.0 18.6 high 156%
Arltunga 22.9 -0.4 30.7 1st 8.4 +0.2 0.1 29th 25.0 19.5 average 128%
Curtin Springs 24.6 +0.7 31.5 17th 8.7 0.0 3.4 13th 27.5 17.8 high 154%
Jervois 25.0 -0.4 31.3 17th 10.6 +0.6 3.9 31st 1.4 16.8 average 8%
Kulgera 23.9 +1.1 30.0 21st 7.7 -1.4 -1.0 31st 38.5 12.6 high 306%
Rabbit Flat 30.0 +1.2 35.3 17th 13.7 +2.0 5.8 29th 14.2 12.4 average 115%
Territory Grape Farm 25.7 0.0 32.3 1st 10.3 +0.8 3.9 12th 18.6 22.4 average 83%
Walungurru Airport 28.1 +0.7 33.1 17th 15.3 -0.1 9.1 31st 5.0 17.4 average 29%
Yulara Airport 25.2 +0.9 31.6 21st 8.4 -0.9 3.1 13th 9.0 14.1 average 64%

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 10 am on Monday 3 June 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

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