Northern Territory in January 2020: Warm days and nights with near average rainfall

After an extended period of well below average rainfall for the Northern Territory, January rainfall was very near to the long-term average. January was much cooler than the record-warm December of 2019, however daytime and night-time temperatures were still significantly above average.

Tropical moisture makes its way to the NT at last

  • After near-record dry months in November and December 2019, January 2020 saw two episodes of significant rainfall across the north of the Territory, as widespread tropical moisture moved over the region
  • Averaged across the NT, rainfall for January was 1% below the long-term average; this is the closest to average since May 2019
  • The lack of a strong or sustained monsoon burst meant that rainfall was somewhat patchy over the north, with some coastal parts receiving above average totals, while the northeast Top End observed below average rainfall
  • Further south, some locations in the east received heavy falls due to a tropical low, while other locations missed out on significant falls
  • As the tropical low which would become TC Claudia tracked north of the western Top End during the second week of the month, Wagait Beach and Dum In Mirrie both had their highest January daily rainfall on record; the Dum In Mirrie total of 562.0 mm was the highest daily rainfall ever recorded in the Northern Territory
  • Wagait Beach had its highest total January rainfall since 1995

Above average days and very warm nights

  • Daytime temperatures were above average across virtually the entire NT in January; the only exception was in the far southwest
  • Overall, the mean daily maximum temperature across the Territory was 1.3 °C above the long-term average; some sites over the Top End had their highest January mean daily maximum temperature on record
  • Overnight temperatures were the second-highest on record for January (behind 2019), with the averaged mean daily minimum temperature across the NT 1.9 °C above average
  • The entire NT observed above average overnight temperatures, with nearly all of the Territory having mean minimum temperatures in their highest 10% of records
  • Several sites had either their warmest January night (highest daily minimum temperature) on record and/or highest January mean daily minimum temperature on record
  • Territory-wide, the mean temperature for January was the sixth-highest on record at 1.6 °C above average
  • Some sites had their highest January mean temperature on record, including Tindal RAAF, which also had its highest mean maximum, mean minimum and daily temperature on record for January. Two sites in the far south had low temperature records during the month

Darwin Airport

  • Total rainfall for Darwin Airport was 407.0 mm, which is 95% of the long-term average of 429.2 mm. Wet season rainfall at Darwin Airport, From 1 October to the end of January, was 575.6 mm (45 rain days) which is 64% of the average of 895.9 mm
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Darwin Airport was 32.8 °C, which is 1.0 °C above the long-term average of 31.8 °C. The warmest day was 35.0 °C on the 4th, and the coolest day was on the 10th when the temperature reached 27.2 °C
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Darwin Airport was 26.0 °C, which is 1.1 °C above the long-term average of 24.9 °C. The coldest morning was 22.5 °C on the 30th, and the warmest morning was on the 28th when the minimum temperature was 29.0 °C

Alice Springs Airport

  • Total rainfall for Alice Springs Airport was 32.8 mm, which is 81% of the long-term average of 40.6 mm
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 38.0 °C, which is 1.6 °C above the long-term average of 36.4 °C. The warmest day was 43.0 °C on the 3rd, and the coolest day was on the 6th when the temperature reached 27.1 °C
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 24.2 °C, which is 2.7 °C above the long-term average of 21.5 °C. The coldest morning was 18.8 °C on the 6th, and the warmest morning was on the 10th when the minimum temperature was 31.0 °C; this is the highest daily January minimum temperature since 2007 and equal seventh-highest on record

Severe weather in the NT

  • A tropical low which developed into tropical cyclone Claudia moved over the Arafura and Timor seas, but did not attain TC intensity until reaching the Western Region; however, this low generated locally heavy rainfall across the western Top End on 10 and 11 January as it passed to the north. Dum In Mirrie had rainfall rates at times that had an annual exceedance probability (AEP) of 2% (roughly equivalent to a one-in-50-year event)
  • Widespread thunderstorm activity was observed on the 4th, with a multicell thunderstorm generating heavy rainfall around the Katherine region with an AEP of 2%. On the same day, a severe wind gust of 94 km/h was recorded at Alice Springs Airport
  • A severe wind gust associated with squally showers and thunderstorms was recorded on the 22nd at Point Fawcett, on the western tip of the Tiwi Islands

Further information

Media
(03) 9669 4057
Enquiries

Extremes in January 2020
Hottest day 44.9 °C at Jervois on the 3rd
Warmest days on average 39.5 °C at Walungurru Airport
Coolest days on average 31.6 °C at McCluer Island
Coldest day 20.1 °C at Yulara Airport on the 5th
Coldest night 9.0 °C at Kulgera on the 5th
9.0 °C at Kulgera on the 6th
Coolest nights on average 24.1 °C at Central Arnhem Plateau
Warmest nights on average 27.3 °C at Cape Wessel
27.3 °C at Centre Island
Warmest night 33.8 °C at Walungurru Airport on the 14th
Warmest on average overall 33.3 °C at Walungurru Airport
Coolest on average overall 28.5 °C at Central Arnhem Plateau
Wettest overall 863.8 mm at Wagait Beach
Driest overall 0 mm at Curtin Springs
0 mm at Old Delamere
Wettest day 562.0 mm at Dum In Mirrie Airstrip on the 11th
Strongest wind gust 94 km/h at Alice Springs Airport on the 4th

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 highest January daily rainfall
New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Wagait Beach 515.2 on the 11th 210.0 on the 3rd in 1997 32
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 562.0 on the 11th 189.2 on the 7th in 2018 24



Highest January total rainfall for at least 20 years
Observed
(mm)
Most recent
higher
Average for
January
Soudan 285.3 373.2 in 1984* 100.6
Wagait Beach 863.8 909.0 in 1995* 457.7

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




Record highest January temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
January
Centre Island 40.6 on the 18th 39.7 on the 27th in 2013 46 33.7
Tindal RAAF 40.9 on the 2nd 40.2 on the 13th in 2012 33 34.1
Borroloola Airport 44.2 on the 18th 42.6 on the 3rd in 2019 27 34.3
Point Fawcett 35.5 on the 5th 35.0 on the 1st in 2018 23 31.8
Groote Eylandt Airport 38.8 on the 18th 38.7 on the 6th in 2016 21 33.3



Record lowest January daily maximum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
January
Yulara Airport 20.1 on the 5th 20.8 on the 10th in 2015 33 38.5



Record highest January mean daily maximum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
January
Tindal RAAF 36.7 = 36.7 in 2013 32 34.1
Borroloola Airport 38.4 37.3 in 2013 26 34.3
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 32.6 = 32.6 in 2002 21 31.6
Groote Eylandt Airport 35.4 35.3 in 2016 20 33.3



Record highest January daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
January
Pirlangimpi Airport 28.8 on the 29th = 28.8 on the 27th in 2013 39 24.7
Black Point 29.9 on the 16th 29.5 on the 11th in 2006 29 25.9
Borroloola Airport 30.5 on the 18th 29.5 on the 26th in 2013 27 24.9
McCluer Island 29.9 on the 2nd 29.8 on the 3rd in 2018 20 26.5
Port Keats Airport 29.6 on the 29th 29.4 on the 30th in 2019 20 24.9



Record lowest January temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
January
Kulgera 9.0 on the 5th 10.7 on the 4th in 1987 39 22.1



Record highest January mean daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
January
Gove Airport 26.2 25.9 in 2016 41 24.8
McArthur River Mine Airport 26.2 = 26.2 in 2013 41 25.0
Tindal RAAF 25.5 25.3 in 2013 32 24.3
Black Point 26.8 = 26.8 in 2002 28 25.9
Territory Grape Farm 25.2 25.1 in 2019 27 22.1
Borroloola Airport 26.1 25.9 in 1998 26 24.9
Groote Eylandt Airport 26.5 25.9 in 2015 20 25.2

Highest January mean daily minimum temperature for at least 20 years
Observed
(°C)
Most recent
higher
Average for
January
Daly Waters Airstrip 25.5 25.9 in 1952* 24.0

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




Record highest January mean temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
January
Tindal RAAF 31.1 31.0 in 2013 32 29.2
Black Point 29.7 29.5 in 2016 28 28.7
Borroloola Airport 32.2 31.4 in 2013 26 29.6
Point Fawcett 30.0 = 30.0 in 2002 22 28.8
Groote Eylandt Airport 31.0 30.6 in 2016 20 29.3



Summary statistics for January 2020
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean for
January
2020
Diff
from
average
Highest for
January
2020
Mean for
January
2020
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
January
2020
Total for
January
2020
Average
for
January
Rank of
January
2020
Fraction of
January
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Airport 33.5 +0.8 36.0 14th 24.5 +0.5 21.9 29th 235.0 327.9 low 72%
Black Point 32.4 +0.9 34.5 4th 26.8 +0.9 23.5 30th 228.6 303.5 average 75%
Central Arnhem Plateau 32.9 +1.2 35.4 5th 24.1 +0.8 21.1 29th 249.8 258.2 average 97%
Charles Point 31.9   33.4 4th 26.4   23.6 22nd 442.2
Croker Island Airport 32.0   34.7 3rd 26.2   22.9 6th 379.2
Darwin Airport 32.8 +1.0 35.0 4th 26.0 +1.1 22.5 30th 407.0 429.2 average 95%
Delamere Weapons Range 36.6 +2.0 39.7 2nd 24.6 +0.5 22.0 1st 131.2 200.8 average 65%
Douglas River Research Farm 34.7 +1.0 37.2 13th 24.5 +0.6 21.9 17th 238.8 288.9 average 83%
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 32.6 +1.0 34.3 2nd 26.1 +0.5 23.1 30th 851.4 442.0 v high 193%
Jabiru Airport 34.6 +0.9 37.6 4th 25.2 +0.5 22.8 29th 398.6 358.4 average 111%
Kangaroo Flats (Defence) 33.8   36.3 18th 24.7   22.1 29th 524.6
McCluer Island 31.6 +0.2 33.5 15th 27.0 +0.5 23.1 29th 347.8 256.0 high 136%
Middle Point 34.4 +1.0 37.3 4th 24.6 +0.3 22.8 1st 301.2 286.4 average 105%
Mount Bundey North (Defence) 34.3   37.1 2nd 24.9   21.5 17th 301.2
Mount Bundey South (Defence) 34.8   37.2 4th 25.2   22.2 1st 303.2
Murganella Airstrip 32.8   36.2 1st 24.7   22.8 29th 372.6
Noonamah Airstrip 33.8   35.9 15th 25.2   22.9 21st 435.0
Oenpelli Airport 33.3   36.7 1st 25.6   23.0 29th 457.8
Pirlangimpi Airport 32.4 +0.5 34.4 15th 25.6 +0.9 23.4 21st 540.2 412.6 high 131%
Point Fawcett 33.0 +1.2 35.5 5th 26.9 +1.1 24.5 21st 282.6 328.7 average 86%
Point Stuart 33.3 +0.8 35.9 18th 25.5 +0.3 23.2 29th 323.6 298.3 average 108%
Port Keats Airport 33.6 +1.0 35.5 1st 25.7 +0.8 21.8 30th 284.0 310.8 average 91%
Tindal RAAF 36.7 +2.6 40.9 2nd 25.5 +1.2 22.2 29th 169.0 261.1 low 65%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Cape Wessel 34.6   36.8 4th 27.3   24.9 11th 152.6 260.1 average 59%
Gove Airport 33.8 +1.7 36.3 3rd 26.2 +1.4 24.2 22nd 148.8 272.8 low 55%
Groote Eylandt Airport 35.4 +2.1 38.8 18th 26.5 +1.3 24.3 12th 98.6 238.2 v low 41%
Maningrida Airport 32.9 +0.4 36.2 17th 25.8 +0.7 23.4 17th 276.2 276.9 average 100%
Milingimbi Airport 33.8 +0.9 36.9 18th 26.3 +0.8 22.8 17th 264.8 282.8 average 94%
Warruwi Airport 32.1 0.0 34.9 3rd 25.8 +0.2 23.4 17th 395.2 263.8 high 150%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola Airport 38.4 +4.1 44.2 18th 26.1 +1.2 22.2 3rd 249.8 215.9 high 116%
Centre Island 35.5 +1.8 40.6 18th 27.3 +0.6 23.0 14th 256.8 237.8 average 108%
Daly Waters Airstrip 38.3 +2.5 42.4 28th 25.5 +1.5 22.2 21st 138.4 165.5 average 84%
McArthur River Mine Airport 37.9 +1.9 42.9 16th 26.2 +1.2 21.8 17th 280.0 220.7 high 127%
Ngukurr Airport 38.9   43.0 18th 26.9   24.0 21st 238.2
Victoria (district 14F)
Bradshaw 37.2 +2.0 40.2 2nd 25.8 +0.8 22.3 24th 128.4 234.3 average 55%
Bradshaw - Angallari Valley (Defence) 36.3   40.2 2nd 25.4   22.6 4th 218.4
Bradshaw - Koolendong Valley (Defence) 35.9   39.1 2nd 25.2   22.9 4th 350.6
Lajamanu Airport 39.2 +1.9 43.4 28th 25.8 +1.6 23.0 8th 102.6 145.4 average 71%
Victoria River Downs 37.4 +0.9 41.1 28th 25.4 +0.5 22.2 31st 127.0 156.5 average 81%
Barkly (district 15A)
Elliott 38.5 +1.1 42.9 16th 25.9 +1.7 21.9 19th 235.5 140.0 high 168%
Tennant Creek Airport 38.4 +1.7 43.8 15th 26.5 +1.5 22.5 20th 66.2 115.9 average 57%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 38.0 +1.6 43.0 3rd 24.2 +2.7 18.8 6th 32.8 40.6 average 81%
Jervois 39.3 +0.8 44.9 3rd 26.1 +3.2 21.3 21st 67.2 50.1 high 134%
Rabbit Flat 39.3 +0.8 43.1 28th 25.5 +1.4 20.9 5th 144.8 128.8 high 112%
Territory Grape Farm 38.9 +1.4 44.0 15th 25.2 +3.1 21.1 30th 85.6 64.3 high 133%
Walungurru Airport 39.5 -0.1 42.9 16th 27.2 +1.0 19.1 5th 18.0 47.8 low 38%
Yulara Airport 38.2 -0.3 42.9 2nd 24.6 +1.8 16.7 5th 17.4 27.8 average 63%

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 February 2020. 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

Climate