Northern Territory in February 2020: Warm days and nights, average rainfall

Daytime and overnight temperatures were warmer than the long-term average across much of the Northern Territory in February. Rainfall was generally near average, although totals were below average across parts of the Top End and the far southwest, and above average near the base of the Top End

Very warm nights, warm days

  • Territory-wide, the mean minimum temperature across the NT was 1.64 °C above the long-term average: this is the second-highest on record, behind the 1983 record of 1.87 °C above average
  • Virtually the entire Northern Territory had an above average mean minimum temperature in February, with the northern half having temperatures in the highest 10% of all records. Many sites (including Darwin Airport) had either their warmest February night (highest daily minimum temperature) and/or their highest February mean daily minimum temperature on record
  • The mean maximum temperature across the Territory was 1.74 °C above the long-term average. Parts of the far north and the southwest had the highest temperature anomalies. Several sites had either their highest February temperature, highest February mean daily maximum temperature on record or their highest February mean daily minimum temperature for at least 20 years
  • The mean temperature averaged across the NT was 1.69 °C above the long-term average and the sixth-highest on record. Some sites had their highest February mean temperature on record
  • For the wet season-to-date (1 October–29 February), the mean maximum temperature for the Northern Territory was 2.27 °C above the long-term average and second-highest on record (2.55 °C in 2019). The mean minimum for the same period was 1.47 °C above the long-term average, while the mean temperature was 1.87 °C above the long-term average; these measures were also the second-highest on record for the 5-month period (1.99 °C in 2019 for February mean minimum and 2.27 °C in 2019 for mean temperature)

Variable, but below average rainfall overall

  • Across the Top End of the NT, rainfall was mostly close to the monthly average during February; Territory-wide, rainfall was 33% below the long-term average
  • Well above average rain was observed just south of the Top End, including across the Carpenatria District, as well as the northern Barkly and Gregory districts, due to the passage of TC Esther which crossed the southern coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria late in the month
  • Arltunga, in the southern NT, along with several other sites in the northen NT, had their highest February daily rainfall on record
  • For the wet season-to-date (1 October–29 February), rainfall for the Northern Territory was 36% below the long-term average: the ninth-lowest on record and lowest since 1983 for the 5-month period

Darwin Airport

  • Total rainfall for Darwin Airport was 215.4 mm, which is 58% of the long-term average of 370.0 mm
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Darwin Airport was 33.4 °C, which is 1.9 °C above the long-term average of 31.5 °C, the second-highest on record (0.1 °C lower than 2016 record). The warmest day was 34.8 °C on the 13th, and the coolest day was on the 11th when the temperature reached 30.6 °C
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Darwin Airport was 26.8 °C, which is 2.1 °C above the long-term average of 24.7 °C, exceeding the previous record set in 2019 by 0.8 °C. The coldest morning was 21.9 °C on the 20th, and the warmest morning was on the 26th when the minimum temperature was 29.7 °C (highest February daily minimum temperature on record)
  • Darwin Airport's mean temperature was 30.1 °C, exceeding the previous record set in February 2019
  • For the wet season to date (1 October–29 February), Darwin Airport had total rainfall of 783.8 mm (62% of the long-term average), its lowest since 1991 (when 659.8 mm was observed). Darwin Airport's mean maximum and mean temperature are both highest on record for the 5-month period (34.1 °C and 29.9 °C, respectively)

Alice Springs Airport

  • Total rainfall for Alice Springs Airport was 4.2 mm, which is 10% of the long-term average of 41.2 mm
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 36.8 °C, which is 1.6 °C above the long-term average of 35.2 °C. The warmest day was 41.5 °C on the 13th, and the coolest day was on the 2nd when the temperature reached 23.0 °C
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 21.7 °C, which is 1.0 °C above the long-term average of 20.7 °C. The coldest morning was 15.3 °C on the 23rd, and the warmest morning was on the 11th when the minimum temperature was 26.9 °C
  • Summer (December–February) summary: rainfall total of 38.4 mm, 32% of long-term average of 120.3 mm. Mean maximum temperature of 38.6 °C, which was 2.9 °C above the long-term average. A temperature of 45.7 °C observed on 25 December was the highest daily temperature recorded at Alice Springs Airport. The mean minimum summer temperature was 22.7 °C, 1.8 °C above average; the lowest summer temperature was 12.5  °C observed on 1 December 2019
  • Yulara had its highest recorded temperature for all months during the 2019–2020 summer, with 47.1 °C on 24 December. It also had its highest recorded daily minimum temperature with 32.5 °C on 25 December. Yulara also had its highest summer mean daily minimum temperature on record with 24.2 °C

Severe weather in the NT

  • On 1 February, multicell thunderstorms occurred across parts of the southern NT, generating heavy rainfall across the Simpson and Barkly districts. Tennant Creek Airport recorded 71.8 mm in 2 hours which exceeded its 10% Annual Exceedance probability (AEP) (roughly equivalent to a one-in-10-year event). Of note, is that in this 2-hour period, Tennant Creek recorded more rainfall than all of 2019
  • Multicell thunderstorms affected the Daly region on 11 February, generating heavy rainfall. At Gourley, southeast of Naiyu, 98.5 mm was recorded in 1 hour, exceeding its 1% AEP (roughly equivalent to a one-in-100-year event)
  • A continental squall-line thunderstorm on 16 February generated a severe wind gust of 98 km/h at Tindal RAAF, near Katherine
  • A squall-line thunderstorm affected Croker Island, on the far north coast, generating 114.6 mm of rainfall in the 24 hours to 9am on 23 February. An hourly total of 94 mm had an AEP between 1 and 2 % (roughly between a one-in-50 and one-in-100-year event)
  • Heavy rainfall associated with thunderstorms occurring in the convective bands circling ex-TC Esther exceeded rainfall thresholds at multiple sites across the southern Arnhem, Carpentaria and Daly districts on 26 February

Tropical cyclone activity

  • Tropical cyclone Esther formed in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria during the evening of 23 February, before making landfall near the NT/Queensland border on the 24th as a category 1 system

Further information

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Extremes in February 2020
Hottest day 44.1 °C at Rabbit Flat on the 15th
Warmest days on average 40.4 °C at Walungurru Airport
Coolest days on average 31.3 °C at McCluer Island
Coldest day 23.0 °C at Alice Springs Airport on the 2nd
Coldest night 12.0 °C at Kulgera on the 2nd
Coolest nights on average 21.7 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Warmest nights on average 28.0 °C at Walungurru Airport
Warmest night 31.6 °C at Centre Island on the 15th
Warmest on average overall 34.2 °C at Walungurru Airport
Coolest on average overall 28.4 °C at Central Arnhem Plateau
Wettest overall 531.5 mm at Labelle Downs
Wettest day 310.0 mm at Buley Rockhole on the 28th
Strongest wind gust 102 km/h at Centre Island on the 25th

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 February daily rainfall
New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Arltunga 162.2 on the 6th 117.1 on the 25th in 1936 73
Kidman Springs 143.0 on the 27th 133.8 on the 13th in 2008 51
Montejinni 137.0 on the 26th 117.0 on the 5th in 1976 47
Bullo River 226.0 on the 28th 174.0 on the 4th in 1969 30
Labelle Downs 228.0 on the 27th 170.0 on the 5th in 2017 30
Batchelor Airport 179.8 on the 27th 165.2 on the 17th in 2011 24
Nitmiluk Rangers 149.0 on the 27th 131.0 on the 14th in 2002 23



Record highest February temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
February
Tindal RAAF 39.0 on the 15th = 39.0 on the 22nd in 2016 33 34.0
Groote Eylandt Airport 38.7 on the 15th 38.6 on the 21st in 2019 21 33.1



Record highest February mean daily maximum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
February
Point Fawcett 32.9 = 32.9 in 2016 22 31.7
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 32.8 = 32.8 in 2019 21 31.4



Record highest February daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
February
Darwin Airport 29.7 on the 26th 29.4 on the 19th in 1983 80 24.7
Daly Waters Airstrip 29.4 on the 16th 28.9 on the 22nd in 1962 51 23.4
Centre Island 31.6 on the 15th 30.9 on the 3rd in 2002 46 26.6
Jabiru Airport 27.8 on the 24th 27.5 on the 5th in 1974 45 24.5
Gove Airport 28.7 on the 16th 28.4 on the 4th in 2002 42 24.6
Pirlangimpi Airport 28.9 on the 26th 28.5 on the 6th in 1988 39 24.5
Channel Point 29.5 on the 26th 29.4 on the 22nd in 1996 26 25.1
Batchelor Airport 27.6 on the 26th 26.6 on the 1st in 2007 25 23.8
Point Fawcett 29.8 on the 27th 29.3 on the 20th in 2010 23 25.7
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 29.7 on the 26th 29.4 on the 17th in 2016 22 25.5
Groote Eylandt Airport 29.9 on the 15th 29.0 on the 14th in 2010 21 25.0
Bradshaw 29.1 on the 25th 28.0 on the 16th in 2016 20 24.8



Record highest February mean daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
February
Darwin Airport 26.8 26.0 in 2019 79 24.7
Daly Waters Airstrip 25.0 = 25.0 in 1952 50 23.4
Gove Airport 26.3 25.8 in 2019 41 24.6
Pirlangimpi Airport 26.2 25.6 in 2016 38 24.5
Douglas River Research Farm 24.7 24.5 in 2010 29 23.7
Territory Grape Farm 23.5 23.4 in 2008 26 21.6
Channel Point 27.0 26.6 in 2010 25 25.1
Batchelor Airport 24.7 24.3 in 2019 24 23.8
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 27.1 26.9 in 2010 21 25.5

Highest February mean daily minimum temperature for at least 20 years
Observed
(°C)
Most recent
higher
Average for
February
Tennant Creek Airport 26.8 27.3 in 1986 24.5



Record highest February mean temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
February
Darwin Airport 30.1 29.6 in 2019 79 28.1
Gove Airport 29.8 = 29.8 in 2016 41 28.1
Channel Point 29.7 29.5 in 2010 25 28.3
Point Fawcett 30.1 29.9 in 2010 22 28.7
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 30.0 29.7 in 2019 21 28.5



Summary statistics for February 2020
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean for
February
2020
Diff
from
average
Highest for
February
2020
Mean for
February
2020
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
February
2020
Total for
February
2020
Average
for
February
Rank of
February
2020
Fraction of
February
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Airport 33.8 +1.3 35.9 22nd 24.7 +0.9 21.3 20th 340.8 321.4 average 106%
Black Point 32.0 +0.8 33.1 16th 26.8 +1.1 23.8 22nd 69.2 275.0 v low 25%
Central Arnhem Plateau 32.9 +0.9 37.9 17th 23.9 +0.8 21.4 27th 331.2 240.2 average 138%
Channel Point 32.4 +0.8 33.5 22nd 27.0 +1.9 22.5 11th 139.6 384.5 lowest 36%
Charles Point 32.4   33.3 18th 27.1   22.2 20th 181.0
Croker Island Airport 31.8   33.2 19th 26.7   23.2 23rd 201.0
Darwin Airport 33.4 +1.9 34.8 13th 26.8 +2.1 21.9 20th 215.4 370.0 low 58%
Delamere Weapons Range 35.2 +0.7 39.3 15th 24.9 +1.0 21.8 12th 179.0 211.4 average 85%
Douglas River Research Farm 34.4 +0.9 36.8 22nd 24.7 +1.0 22.0 20th 275.8 283.0 average 97%
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 32.8 +1.4 34.0 18th 27.1 +1.6 22.6 20th 185.6 393.7 low 47%
Jabiru Airport 34.6 +1.3 37.0 17th 25.3 +0.8 23.3 19th 227.4 353.9 low 64%
Kangaroo Flats (Defence) 34.7   36.6 6th 25.3   21.5 20th 145.6
McCluer Island 31.3 +0.2 33.2 18th 27.1 +0.9 22.9 9th 137.2 233.2 average 59%
Middle Point 34.9 +1.4 38.0 17th 25.0 +1.0 22.5 20th 256.4 288.8 average 89%
Mount Bundey North (Defence) 33.9   36.4 15th 25.1   22.7 20th 291.2
Mount Bundey South (Defence) 34.6   37.0 22nd 25.2   23.0 20th 262.8
Murganella Airstrip 33.0   35.0 19th 25.1   22.6 23rd 223.6
Noonamah Airstrip 34.0   36.5 17th 25.6   22.1 20th 284.4
Oenpelli Airport 33.3   35.8 17th 25.6   23.0 23rd 263.8
Pirlangimpi Airport 32.8 +1.1 34.8 17th 26.2 +1.7 22.6 20th 187.4 369.3 low 51%
Point Fawcett 32.9 +1.2 34.5 6th 27.3 +1.6 22.6 11th 259.2 272.7 average 95%
Port Keats Airport 33.5 +0.8 36.7 9th 26.3 +1.5 21.9 16th 235.6 295.7 average 80%
Tindal RAAF 35.6 +1.6 39.0 15th 25.1 +1.0 21.6 17th 134.0 229.1 low 58%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Cape Wessel 33.3   35.7 1st 26.8   23.7 10th 211.8 244.4 average 87%
Gove Airport 33.4 +1.8 36.1 17th 26.3 +1.7 23.9 23rd 195.8 273.0 average 72%
Groote Eylandt Airport 34.1 +1.0 38.7 15th 25.9 +0.9 23.6 17th 229.6 229.3 average 100%
Maningrida Airport 33.7 +1.4 36.2 14th 24.9 +0.1 22.2 19th 364.2 264.0 high 138%
Milingimbi Airport 34.2 +1.4 36.0 1st 25.4 +0.1 23.2 14th 254.8 231.4 average 110%
Ngayawili 32.0 +0.5 32.8 21st 26.6 +1.0 23.1 13th 156.8 291.3 low 54%
Warruwi Airport 32.8 +1.3 35.3 18th 26.5 +1.2 22.6 9th 185.8 232.4 average 80%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola Airport 35.9 +1.8 42.0 15th 25.4 +0.9 22.9 19th 377.8 219.6 high 172%
Bulman 36.4 +1.7 40.8 17th     24.4 22nd 65.2 196.2 v low 33%
Centre Island 34.3 +1.2 38.8 14th 27.0 +0.4 22.6 25th 459.4 273.8 high 168%
Daly Waters Airstrip 36.9 +1.9 42.0 15th 25.0 +1.6 21.1 24th 303.6 182.5 high 166%
McArthur River Mine Airport 36.7 +1.3 42.5 15th 26.0 +1.2 23.2 2nd 487.8 184.4 v high 265%
Ngukurr Airport 36.9   41.8 15th 26.2   21.8 17th 192.6
Victoria (district 14F)
Bradshaw 36.5 +1.2 39.6 22nd 26.1 +1.3 22.6 16th 193.0 197.3 average 98%
Bradshaw - Angallari Valley (Defence) 35.9   39.6 22nd 26.0   23.1 1st 49.4
Bradshaw - Koolendong Valley (Defence) 35.5   39.9 23rd 26.0   22.9 21st 255.6
Lajamanu Airport 37.6 +1.2 42.7 15th 25.2 +1.6 22.0 24th 131.6 142.7 average 92%
Victoria River Downs 37.1 +1.6 41.0 15th 25.6 +1.1 21.0 24th 276.6 161.3 high 171%
Wave Hill 37.6 +1.5 42.8 15th 25.4 +1.6 20.1 26th 173.6 165.6 average 105%
Barkly (district 15A)
Elliott 37.0 +0.4 42.4 16th 25.7 +1.9 21.8 22nd 272.8 156.8 high 174%
Tennant Creek Airport 37.8 +2.0 42.7 14th 26.8 +2.3 22.8 4th 160.0 117.2 high 137%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 36.8 +1.6 41.5 13th 21.7 +1.0 15.3 23rd 4.2 41.2 low 10%
Jervois 36.9 -0.1 40.9 15th 22.5 +0.3 17.5 29th 29.2 55.0 average 53%
Rabbit Flat 38.5 +1.0 44.1 15th 25.1 +1.6 18.4 24th 79.2 83.3 average 95%
Territory Grape Farm 37.5 +1.0 41.5 14th 23.5 +1.9 18.9 23rd 39.4 57.7 average 68%
Walungurru Airport 40.4 +1.5 43.5 15th 28.0 +2.1 24.3 1st 19.4 30.3 average 64%
Yulara Airport 39.1 +2.1 43.6 13th 23.9 +1.8 19.4 23rd 9.2 36.2 average 25%

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 2 March 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

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Enquiries

Climate