Northern Territory in March 2020: Warmer and drier than average

Rainfall was below average in the north, and generally average to above averge in the southern half of the Northern Territory in March. Daytime and overnight temperatures were above average, but not dramatically so. The Top End and parts of the southwest were warmer than normal, but elsewhere temperatures were close to average.

Dry in the north, wet in the south

  • Most of the northern half of the Territory had average to below average rainfall during March; apart from the southwest, much of the southern half had above average falls
  • The rainfall in the south was associated with the passage of ex-TC Esther across the central NT, early in the month; some sites near the path of Esther had their highest March daily rainfall on record as a result
  • Territory-wide, rainfall was 28% below the long-term March average
  • For the year to date, rainfall across the NT is 1% below the long-term average
  • For the wet season to date (1 October to 31 March), rainfall across the NT is 21% below the long-term average

Warm in the north and southwest, near-average elsewhere

  • Much of the northern and southwest NT had above average daytime and overnight temperatures; away from these regions temperatures were close to average
  • This temperature pattern broadly reflected the monthly rainfall pattern where the cooler temperatures were associated with areas that had above average rain while the drier regions had higher than normal temperatures
  • Across the Territory, the mean monthly maximum temperature was 1.09 °C above the long-term average, while the mean minimum was 0.55 °C above average
  • Some sites in the western Top End had their highest March temperature on record, while Rabbit Flat, in the Tanami District, had its coldest March day (lowest maximum temperature) on record, associated with heavy rain early in March
  • For the year to date, the mean maximum temperature across the NT is 1.38 °C above the long-term average, while the mean minimum is 1.38 °C above average (second-highest on record, behind the +1.89 °C anomaly observed in the January to March period of 2019)
  • For the wet season to date (1 October to 31 March), the mean maximum temperature across the NT is 2.08 °C above the long-term average (second-highest on record, behind the +2.68 °C anomaly observed during the same period in 2019), while the mean minimum is 1.32 °C above average (third-highest on record, wth the highest being the +1.97 °C anomaly observed in 2019). The mean temperature across the NT is tracking at 1.7 °C above the long-term average (second-highest on record, behind the +2.33 °C anomaly observed in 2019)

Darwin Airport

  • Total rainfall for Darwin Airport was 270.8 mm, which is 86% of the long-term average of 314.2 mm
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Darwin Airport was 33.2 °C, which is 1.2 °C above the long-term average of 32.0 °C. The warmest day was 35.9 °C on the 30th, and the coolest day was on the 9th when the temperature reached 27.0 °C
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Darwin Airport was 25.4 °C, which is 0.8 °C above the long-term average of 24.6 °C. The coldest morning was 22.6 °C on the 15th, and the warmest morning was on the 14th when the minimum temperature was 27.7 °C

Alice Springs Airport

  • Total rainfall for Alice Springs Airport was 44.4 mm, which is 143% of the long-term average of 31.0 mm
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 33.3 °C, which is 0.5 °C above the long-term average of 32.8 °C. The warmest day was 38.5 °C on the 29th, and the coolest day was on the 3rd when the temperature reached 19.8 °C
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 18.4 °C, which is 0.8 °C above the long-term average of 17.6 °C. The coldest morning was 15.1 °C on the 17th, and the warmest morning was on the 12th when the minimum temperature was 23.2 °C

Severe Weather during March

  • Slow-moving, multicell thunderstorms moved over the northern Top End on 8 March, delivering heavy rainfall to Warruwi. A 2-hour rainfall observation of 83.4 mm had a less than 2% Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP) - roughly, a 1-in-50 year rainfall rate for that site
  • Very heavy rainfall was observed across parts of the north-western Top End during 9 March. Darwin Airport recordered an hourly rainfall total of 80 mm, with an AEP of less than 10% (approximately 1-in-10 year rainfall rate). Rainfall caused local flash flooding and Rapid Creek, in suburban Darwin, briefly reach Minor Flood level. Point Fawcett, on the western tip of the Tiwi Islands, had 97 mm of rain in a 2-hour period, just above its 10% AEP rate
  • A squall-line thunderstorm which passed over the western Top End on 14 March generated a severe wind gust of 94km/h at Darwin Harbour

Further information

Media
(03) 9669 4057

Extremes in March 2020
Hottest day 42.4 °C at Walungurru Airport on the 13th
Warmest days on average 38.1 °C at Walungurru Airport
Coolest days on average 31.3 °C at McCluer Island
Coldest day 19.8 °C at Alice Springs Airport on the 3rd
Coldest night 12.5 °C at Arltunga on the 17th
Coolest nights on average 18.4 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Warmest nights on average 27.2 °C at Centre Island
Warmest night 30.3 °C at Walungurru Airport on the 1st
Warmest on average overall 32.3 °C at Walungurru Airport
Coolest on average overall 25.9 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Wettest overall 345.8 mm at Charles Darwin University
Wettest day 193.0 mm at Suplejack on the 3rd
Strongest wind gust 81 km/h at McCluer Island on the 20th

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 March daily rainfall
New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Suplejack 193.0 on the 3rd 126.0 on the 2nd in 2012 39
Territory Grape Farm 49.4 on the 4th 41.4 on the 24th in 2007 32
Gemtree Park 55.5 on the 4th 50.8 on the 2nd in 2001 30



Record highest March temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
March
Channel Point 35.0 on the 27th = 35.0 on the 31st in 2019 26 32.0
Point Fawcett 34.5 on the 16th = 34.5 on the 23rd in 2016 23 31.9
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 35.1 on the 16th 35.0 on the 19th in 2014 22 31.9



Record lowest March daily maximum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
March
Rabbit Flat 22.7 on the 3rd 23.0 on the 29th in 2007 24 36.7



Summary statistics for March 2020
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean for
March
2020
Diff
from
average
Highest for
March
2020
Mean for
March
2020
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
March
2020
Total for
March
2020
Average
for
March
Rank of
March
2020
Fraction of
March
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Airport 33.7 +0.6 36.3 14th 23.9 +0.4 21.5 18th 230.4 235.6 average 98%
Black Point 32.2 +0.7 33.6 22nd 26.1 +0.5 23.5 9th 109.4 239.8 low 46%
Central Arnhem Plateau 33.5 +1.2 35.8 13th 23.2 +0.2 21.0 23rd 90.8 209.2 average 43%
Channel Point 33.1 +1.1 35.0 27th 25.2 +0.4 23.0 22nd 166.8 331.5 low 50%
Charles Point 32.0   34.0 16th 25.6   23.5 10th 227.4
Croker Island Airport 32.0   33.9 28th 25.9   23.3 23rd 139.8
Darwin Airport 33.2 +1.2 35.9 30th 25.4 +0.8 22.6 15th 270.8 314.2 average 86%
Delamere Weapons Range 35.2 +0.6 38.5 29th 23.3 -0.1 19.8 11th 109.0 145.3 average 75%
Douglas River Research Farm 34.9 +0.9 36.7 14th 23.3 +0.1 20.9 20th 108.6 223.4 low 49%
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 32.9 +1.0 35.1 16th 25.5 +0.2 22.9 18th 162.4 301.7 low 54%
Jabiru Airport 35.0 +1.3 37.7 29th 25.3 +0.9 23.0 8th 109.2 305.8 v low 36%
Kangaroo Flats (Defence) 34.9   37.2 29th 24.6   22.9 18th 224.4
McCluer Island 31.3 +0.2 33.0 28th 26.5 +0.4 23.9 9th 199.6 212.7 average 94%
Middle Point 34.1 +0.3 36.7 14th 24.0 0.0 22.5 10th 246.2 243.7 average 101%
Mount Bundey North (Defence) 34.5   37.0 29th 24.5   23.3 26th 157.8
Mount Bundey South (Defence) 34.9   37.3 14th 24.4   23.1 18th 104.2
Murganella Airstrip 32.6   34.7 28th 24.4   22.8 29th 178.6
Noonamah Airstrip 34.5   37.1 29th 24.8   23.3 10th 223.6
Oenpelli Airport 34.0   36.9 28th 25.4   23.5 10th 259.2
Pirlangimpi Airport 32.8 +0.7 34.4 6th 24.2 +0.1 22.3 10th 282.4 354.5 average 80%
Point Fawcett 32.6 +0.7 34.5 16th 24.8 -0.2 22.2 10th 308.0 245.0 average 126%
Port Keats Airport 35.1 +1.6 38.0 14th 24.8 +0.6 22.8 11th 96.8 202.3 low 48%
Tindal RAAF 36.2 +1.8 39.1 31st 23.1 0.0 20.2 12th 54.6 159.1 low 34%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Cape Wessel 33.1   35.0 15th 26.3   23.6 26th 179.6 214.5 average 84%
Gove Airport 32.1 +0.8 35.1 14th 24.8 +0.8 22.3 21st 182.4 276.4 low 66%
Groote Eylandt Airport 33.6 +1.0 36.1 12th 23.9 0.0 20.2 16th 150.6 290.0 low 52%
Maningrida Airport 32.8 +0.6 36.3 14th 24.8 +0.3 23.3 9th 242.0 302.5 average 80%
Milingimbi Airport 33.3 +0.9 35.3 16th 25.2 +0.3 23.6 17th 171.8 260.6 average 66%
Warruwi Airport 31.8 +0.3 34.1 14th 25.9 +0.6 22.5 29th 248.4 235.4 average 106%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola Airport 34.9 +0.8 37.7 12th 23.9 +0.5 21.5 20th 34.4 153.1 low 22%
Bulman 35.2 +0.6 37.8 13th 23.7 +0.3 21.1 16th 225.6 230.8 average 98%
Centre Island 34.1 +1.1 37.1 11th 27.2 +0.8 24.2 25th 114.6 248.5 average 46%
Daly Waters Airstrip 35.7 +0.9 38.5 13th 21.8 -0.7 17.9 11th 33.2 108.9 low 30%
McArthur River Mine Airport 36.2 +1.0 38.9 13th 24.3 +0.7 22.2 16th 80.2 144.7 average 55%
Ngukurr Airport 35.8   38.5 13th 24.2   21.2 16th 232.0
Victoria (district 14F)
Bradshaw 37.5 +1.6 40.1 14th 25.3 +0.9 22.4 15th 109.4 121.7 average 90%
Bradshaw - Angallari Valley (Defence) 37.4   40.9 29th 24.8   22.1 11th 0
Bradshaw - Koolendong Valley (Defence) 36.4   39.8 30th 23.2   17.7 29th 67.8
Lajamanu Airport 36.6 +1.3 40.4 30th 22.4 +0.1 19.6 17th 92.4 79.0 average 117%
Victoria River Downs 36.1 +0.8 39.3 29th 22.7 -0.6 20.0 11th 31.6 108.0 low 29%
Wave Hill 35.5 -0.1 39.5 13th 21.4 -0.9 17.1 11th 36.8 115.8 average 32%
Barkly (district 15A)
Elliott 34.7 -1.1 38.4 30th 21.9 -0.5 18.7 21st 44.6 80.4 average 55%
Tennant Creek Airport 35.1 +0.5 38.3 1st 23.6 +0.3 19.1 4th 106.4 53.9 high 197%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 33.3 +0.5 38.5 29th 18.4 +0.8 15.1 17th 44.4 31.0 high 143%
Jervois 34.5 -0.2 39.5 1st 18.6 -0.9 15.3 20th 64.2 36.1 high 178%
Rabbit Flat 36.5 -0.2 41.0 13th 20.5 -1.3 16.0 21st 159.0 67.9 high 234%
Territory Grape Farm 34.0 -0.7 37.7 30th 19.3 -0.4 16.2 5th 54.4 21.7 high 251%
Walungurru Airport 38.1 +1.3 42.4 13th 26.0 +1.5 17.9 4th 0.6 39.5 low 2%
Yulara Airport 36.3 +1.7 41.0 12th 21.3 +1.9 14.6 4th 10.4 30.8 average 34%

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 Wednesday 1 April 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

Climate