Northern Territory in May 2020: First colder than average month for nearly a year

Temperatures across nearly all parts of the Northern Territory were below average in May. Overall, rainfall was well below average, although central regions had rainfall totals marginally above average for the month.

Below average temperatures across the Territory

  • Averaged across the NT, the mean temperature was 1.1 °C below the long-term average. This is the first time since August 2019 that the mean monthly temperature has been below average. The monthly maximum and minimum temperatures were also cool at 1.1 °C and 1.0 °C below average, respectively
  • The Top End of the Territory was the only district that had monthly temperatures above the long-term average in May. A large proportion south of the Top End experienced mean maxium and minimum temperatures up to 2 °C below average during the month
  • Temperatures were particularly cool during 22 to 23 May when a cloud band, combined with a cool, dry southeasterly wind-flow affected the NT; many sites recorded their coldest May day (lowest maximum temperature) and/or their lowest May temperature on record during this 2-day period

Below average rain for first month of dry season

  • While May marks the start of the annual dry season (May to September) for the Northern Territory, much of the NT averages between 10 and 25 mm of rain during the month; in the far northeast, average rainfall during May can be as high as 100 mm
  • Apart from some central districts, rainfall was average to below average during the month. Averaged across the NT, May rainfall was 48% below the long-term average, with totals of up to 25 mm reported across central districts, and over 25 mm around Arnhem Land

Darwin Airport

  • Total rainfall for Darwin Airport was 1.2 mm, which is 6% of the long-term average of 20.9 mm
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Darwin Airport was 32.1 °C, equal to the long-term average.. The warmest day was 34.4 °C on the 19th, and the coolest day was on the 22nd when the temperature reached 25.0 °C
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Darwin Airport was 22.4 °C, which is 0.2 °C above the long-term average of 22.2 °C. The coldest morning was 18.3 °C on the 26th, and the warmest morning was on the 1st when the minimum temperature was 25.5 °C
  • Darwin Airport had seven days when the minimum temperature fell to 20 °C or below, including 5 in a row between 22 and 26 May. Darwin averages 5 sub-20 °C days during May and typically experiences a dry-season total of 51 such days

Alice Springs Airport

  • Total rainfall for Alice Springs Airport was 0 mm, compared to the the long-term average of 18.2 mm
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 22.4 °C, which is 0.8 °C below the long-term average of 23.2 °C. The warmest day was 31.7 °C on the 8th, and the coolest day was on the 23rd when the temperature reached 17.2 °C
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 6.7 °C, which is 1.5 °C below the long-term average of 8.2 °C. The coldest morning was 0.7 °C on the 23rd, and the warmest morning was on the 20th when the minimum temperature was 14.7 °C
  • Alice Springs typically experiences between zero and one day below 0 °C during May
  • Autumn (March–May) summary for Alice Springs Airport: rainfall total of 53.4 mm, 81% of long-term average of 66.0 mm. Mean maximum temperature of 29.1 °C, which was 1.0 °C above the long-term average. The highest autumn temperature of 38.5 °C observed on 29 March. The mean minimum autumn temperature was 13.6 °C, which is 0.8 °C above average; the lowest autumn temperature was 0.7 °C observed on 23 May

Further information

Media
(03) 9669 4057

Extremes in May 2020
Hottest day 36.6 °C at Bradshaw on the 31st
Warmest days on average 33.8 °C at Oenpelli Airport
Coolest days on average 21.1 °C at Arltunga
Coldest day 14.6 °C at Tennant Creek Airport on the 22nd
Coldest night -2.7 °C at Arltunga on the 23rd
Coolest nights on average 6.6 °C at Arltunga
Warmest nights on average 25.3 °C at McCluer Island
Warmest night 27.2 °C at McCluer Island on the 21st
Warmest on average overall 28.1 °C at Oenpelli Airport
Coolest on average overall 13.9 °C at Arltunga
Wettest overall 144.2 mm at Cape Wessel
Wettest day 54.8 mm at Cape Wessel on the 4th
Strongest wind gust 80 km/h at Cape Wessel on the 1st

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 May daily maximum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
May
Tennant Creek Airport 14.6 on the 22nd 16.1 on the 14th in 1979 51 27.7
Wave Hill 18.0 on the 22nd 18.6 on the 15th in 1979 46 31.2
Elliott 17.2 on the 22nd 19.3 on the 20th in 1981 40 31.3
Tindal RAAF 20.9 on the 22nd 24.2 on the 31st in 2000 33 32.3
Douglas River Research Farm 23.0 on the 22nd 23.8 on the 29th in 2012 30 33.3
Borroloola Airport 21.0 on the 22nd 21.1 on the 25th in 2012 27 32.5
Channel Point 23.0 on the 22nd 25.0 on the 31st in 2000 26 31.2
Delamere Weapons Range 19.2 on the 22nd 21.0 on the 30th in 2004 24 31.7
Batchelor Airport 22.8 on the 22nd 25.3 on the 31st in 2004 23 32.8
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 23.6 on the 22nd 26.0 on the 30th in 2004 22 32.3
Groote Eylandt Airport 22.6 on the 23rd 22.9 on the 26th in 2012 22 31.0



Record lowest May temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
May
Tennant Creek Airport 6.7 on the 23rd = 6.7 on the 27th in 1974 51 16.4
Centre Island 14.4 on the 23rd 15.5 on the 30th in 2000 46 22.6



Summary statistics for May 2020
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean for
May
2020
Diff
from
average
Highest for
May
2020
Mean for
May
2020
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
May
2020
Total for
May
2020
Average
for
May
Rank of
May
2020
Fraction of
May
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Airport 32.4 -0.4 35.1 10th 19.3 +0.2 13.9 26th 0.4 26.3 average 2%
Black Point 31.3 0.0 33.2 19th 24.0 +0.2 19.9 26th 14.0 34.4 average 41%
Central Arnhem Plateau 30.0 -0.5 32.6 31st 19.1 -0.3 13.4 25th 0.2 10.0 low 2%
Channel Point 31.2 0.0 34.2 17th 19.9 -0.8 15.2 25th 1.0 13.4 average 7%
Charles Point 31.0   33.9 1st 23.0   19.2 24th 1.2
Croker Island Airport 31.1   33.4 20th 23.9   20.6 24th 1.2
Darwin Airport 32.1 0.0 34.4 19th 22.4 +0.2 18.3 26th 1.2 20.9 average 6%
Delamere Weapons Range 30.5 -1.2 34.4 31st 17.3 -0.9 9.2 24th 0.4 4.3 high 9%
Douglas River Research Farm 33.2 -0.1 36.5 10th 16.0 -0.7 10.0 25th 3.4 9.8 average 35%
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 32.6 +0.3 35.0 17th 21.3 -0.6 16.6 26th 2.8 23.8 average 12%
Jabiru Airport 33.4 -0.2 35.8 31st 22.5 +0.6 17.0 25th 4.0 16.8 average 24%
Kangaroo Flats (Defence) 32.8   35.1 10th 20.4   14.9 26th 2.0
McCluer Island 29.4 -0.1 32.6 1st 25.3 +0.1 21.5 24th 14.4 47.7 average 30%
Middle Point 33.0 -0.4 35.4 10th 19.0 -0.3 12.1 25th 1.4 20.3 average 7%
Mount Bundey North (Defence) 32.9   35.9 10th 20.6   15.2 25th 2.0
Mount Bundey South (Defence) 33.2   36.1 10th 19.1   14.4 26th 1.2
Murganella Airstrip 32.2   35.3 20th 20.8   16.1 26th 2.8
Noonamah Airstrip 33.3   35.7 12th 20.4   15.2 25th 4.2
Oenpelli Airport 33.8   36.0 10th 22.3   17.4 28th 7.0
Pirlangimpi Airport 32.0 -0.6 34.2 19th 21.8 +0.3 17.8 29th 24.4 21.7 average 112%
Point Fawcett 31.7 +0.1 33.3 10th 21.2 0.0 16.8 25th 6.2 34.3 average 18%
Port Keats Airport 32.0 -1.0 35.0 10th 20.0 +0.6 13.6 26th 6.6 18.9 average 35%
Tindal RAAF 32.2 -0.1 35.4 31st 17.2 -0.2 10.4 25th 9.4 2.3 high 409%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Cape Wessel 30.6   32.3 21st 25.1   23.7 24th 144.2 94.7 high 152%
Gove Airport 30.0 0.0 32.8 10th 23.5 +0.8 19.4 27th 58.6 86.2 average 68%
Groote Eylandt Airport 29.8 -1.2 32.0 5th 19.5 +0.2 11.7 25th 22.8 32.6 average 70%
Maningrida Airport 31.5 -0.5 33.8 15th 21.6 -0.3 16.5 28th 37.0 25.9 high 143%
Milingimbi Airport 32.5 +0.5 34.9 10th 22.1 -0.4 18.1 24th 4.2 25.6 low 16%
Warruwi Airport 30.9 +0.1 33.2 21st 24.2 +0.1 20.6 24th 0.2 16.1 low 1%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola Airport 31.6 -0.9 35.8 20th 14.8 -1.1 6.4 24th 3.8 7.8 high 49%
Bulman 31.6 -1.0 34.7 8th 19.4 +1.0 11.3 25th 0.2 18.2 low 1%
Centre Island 28.0 -1.5 32.0 20th 21.1 -1.5 14.4 23rd 4.6 11.3 average 41%
Daly Waters Airstrip 30.1 -1.2 34.0 31st 14.9 -1.1 6.0 24th 9.4 6.6 high 142%
McArthur River Mine Airport 31.1 -1.3 34.6 9th 15.3 -1.4 6.3 24th 7.6 7.1 high 107%
Ngukurr Airport 31.8   35.3 8th 17.6   8.9 25th 1.8
Victoria (district 14F)
Bradshaw 33.0 -0.9 36.6 31st 18.8 0.0 12.3 25th 6.8 13.0 high 52%
Bradshaw - Angallari Valley (Defence) 31.7   35.7 31st 19.4   14.2 26th 0
Bradshaw - Koolendong Valley (Defence) 31.7   36.0 31st 14.3   9.0 25th 9.6
Lajamanu Airport 28.1 -1.6 34.4 9th 14.2 +0.5 6.2 24th 15.0 8.3 high 181%
Victoria River Downs 30.8 -1.2 35.2 31st 14.7 -1.2 7.2 24th 17.8 5.9 high 302%
Wave Hill 29.6 -1.6 34.6 31st 15.4 +0.2 6.2 24th 10.2 8.2 high 124%
Barkly (district 15A)
Elliott 28.7 -2.6 34.1 9th 14.5 -1.5 7.0 25th 8.4 6.6 high 127%
Tennant Creek Airport 26.3 -1.4 33.2 9th 15.3 -1.1 6.7 23rd 6.6 8.2 average 80%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 22.4 -0.8 31.7 8th 6.7 -1.5 0.7 23rd 0 18.2 lowest 0%
Arltunga 21.1 -2.2 30.8 8th 6.6 -1.6 -2.7 23rd 0.4 19.3 average 2%
Jervois 23.9 -1.5 33.1 8th 8.8 -1.2 2.1 23rd 1.6 16.5 average 10%
Rabbit Flat 27.1 -1.7 33.9 9th     3.4 25th 17.4 12.6 average 138%
Territory Grape Farm 23.9 -1.8 31.1 8th 8.6 -0.9 1.3 23rd 1.4 21.7 average 6%
Walungurru Airport 25.9 -1.6 33.1 8th 14.2 -1.2 8.4 24th 1.0 16.6 average 6%
Yulara Airport 23.4 -1.0 31.8 8th 7.8 -1.5 1.6 23rd 1.6 13.7 average 12%

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 12 pm on Monday 1 June 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