Northern Territory in December 2020: wet throughout, with cool days

The Northern Territory had its highest December rainfall total since 2016, and fifth-highest on record. Daytime temperatures were well below average across virtually all of the NT, with the overall mean maximum temperature ranked as the lowest in December since 2000. The Territory-wide night-time temperature was marginally above average during the month.

Fifth-highest December rainfall on record

Very cool days, warmer than average nghts

Darwin Airport

  • Total rainfall for Darwin Airport was 382.0 mm, which is 153% of the long-term average of 250.3 mm.
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Darwin Airport was 32.6 °C, which is 0.1 °C below the long-term average of 32.7 °C.
  • The warmest day was 35.9 °C on the 10th, and the coolest day was on the 24th when the temperature reached 29.9 °C.
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Darwin Airport was 25.0 °C, which is 0.3 °C below the long-term average of 25.3 °C.
  • The coldest morning was 22.5 °C on the 16th, and the warmest morning was on the 11th when the minimum temperature was 27.9 °C.

Alice Springs Airport

  • Total rainfall for Alice Springs Airport was 86.6 mm, which is 224% of the long-term average of 38.7 mm.
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 32.9 °C, which is 2.6 °C below the long-term average of 35.5 °C; this was Alice Springs Airport's lowest December mean maximum temperature since 2001.
  • The warmest day was 43.5 °C on the 5th, and the coolest day was on the 23rd when the temperature reached 17.8 °C.
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 21.1 °C, which is 0.8 °C above the long-term average of 20.3 °C.
  • The coldest morning was 14.1 °C on the 24th, and the warmest morning was on the 16th, when the minimum temperature was 27.2 °C.

Severe weather

  • 6 December: thunderstorms in the southern NT generated a 100 km/h wind gust at Territory Grape Farm.
  • 17 December: thunderstorm activity produced heavy rainfall about the north-western Top End, including a 2-hour total of 101 mm at Gunn Point. This rainfall rate has an Annual Exceedance Period (AEP) of less than 10% (roughly equivalent to a 1-in-10 year event).
  • 24 December: heavy rainfall, including 68.6 mm in 1 hour, fell at Warruwi on the north coast of the Top End. Rainfall of this intensity has an Annual Exceedance Period (AEP) of less than 10% (roughly equivalent to a 1-in-10 year event).
  • 26 December: slow-moving thunderstorms generated heavy rainfall across parts of the Daly region, with sites including Noonamah (86.4 mm in 1 hour) and Batchelor (85.8 mm in 1 hour) experiencing rainfall rates with an Annual Exceedance Period (AEP) of less than 10% (roughly equivalent to a 1-in-10 year event).
  • 28 December: slow-moving thunderstorms generated heavy rainfall across parts of the southern Gregory District, with Cattle Creek recording 70 mm in 1 hour. Rainfall of this intensity has an Annual Exceedance Period (AEP) of less than 10% (roughly equivalent to a 1-in-10 year event).

Further information

Media
(03) 9669 4057

Extremes in December 2020
Hottest day 46.0 °C at Jervois on the 5th
Warmest days on average 36.6 °C at Elliott
36.6 °C at Ngukurr Airport
Coolest days on average 31.4 °C at Charles Point
Coldest day 17.1 °C at Arltunga on the 23rd
Coldest night 13.2 °C at Arltunga on the 24th
Coolest nights on average 20.4 °C at Arltunga
Warmest nights on average 26.9 °C at Centre Island
Warmest night 31.1 °C at Walungurru Airport on the 17th
Warmest on average overall 31.2 °C at Ngukurr Airport
Coolest on average overall 26.0 °C at Arltunga
Wettest overall 619.7 mm at Territory Wildlife Park
Wettest day 188.4 mm at Elizabeth Valley on the 23rd
Strongest wind gust 100 km/h at Territory Grape Farm on the 6th

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 December daily rainfall
New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Mount Denison 151.0 on the 22nd 116.6 on the 27th in 2016 55
Suplejack 68.0 on the 22nd 58.0 on the 8th in 2000 38
Territory Grape Farm 104.2 on the 21st 68.2 on the 31st in 2016 34
Cattle Creek 96.6 on the 29th 63.2 on the 23rd in 1988 27
Pine Hill 82.0 on the 21st 81.0 on the 21st in 2015 26
Rabbit Flat 77.4 on the 22nd 70.0 on the 5th in 2013 25



Record highest December total rainfall
New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
December
Lajamanu Airport 320.2 228.6 in 2003 60 80.7
Mount Denison 361.4 246.8 in 2016 54 57.6
Suplejack 219.2 183.0 in 2001 38 68.9
Gorrie 480.0 449.8 in 2003 36 178.2
Pine Hill 322.4 310.0 in 2016 35 62.8
Territory Grape Farm 320.8 219.2 in 2016 34 62.4
Gilnockie 430.2 379.4 in 2015 32 176.0
Gemtree Park 219.5 166.8 in 2016 31 53.3
Rabbit Flat 281.4 145.8 in 2000 25 78.2

Highest December total rainfall for at least 20 years
Observed
(mm)
Most recent
higher
Average for
December
Birrindudu 232.0 285.4 in 1998* 104.8
Elizabeth Valley 573.4 722.0 in 1998* 299.9

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




Record lowest December daily maximum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
December
Jervois 19.1 on the 23rd 19.3 on the 26th in 2014 53 37.8
Territory Grape Farm 18.7 on the 23rd 19.1 on the 11th in 2009 29 36.6
Rabbit Flat 21.3 on the 22nd 25.1 on the 13th in 2000 25 38.9



Record lowest December mean daily maximum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
December
Territory Grape Farm 33.0 33.1 in 2000 28 36.6

Lowest December mean daily maximum temperature for at least 20 years
Observed
(°C)
Most recent
lower
Average for
December
Jabiru Airport 33.8 33.3 in 2000 35.2
Ngayawili 31.8 31.1 in 2000 32.9
Rabbit Flat 35.9 35.4 in 2000 38.9
Warruwi Airport 32.1 31.3 in 2000 33.2



Record highest December daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
December
Arltunga 29.9 on the 5th = 29.9 on the 26th in 2019 21 20.4



Record lowest December mean daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
December
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 25.2 25.3 in 2010 22 26.2
Port Keats Airport 24.4 = 24.4 in 2010 20 25.5

Lowest December mean daily minimum temperature for at least 20 years
Observed
(°C)
Most recent
lower
Average for
December
Warruwi Airport 25.4 25.3 in 2000 26.3



Record lowest December mean temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
December
Port Keats Airport 28.6 = 28.6 in 2008 20 29.6

Lowest December mean temperature for at least 20 years
Observed
(°C)
Most recent
lower
Average for
December
Jabiru Airport 29.4 29.1 in 2000 30.1
Warruwi Airport 28.7 28.3 in 2000 29.8



Summary statistics for December 2020
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean for
December
2020
Diff
from
average
Highest for
December
2020
Mean for
December
2020
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
December
2020
Total for
December
2020
Average
for
December
Rank of
December
2020
Fraction of
December
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Airport 32.8 -1.2 35.8 3rd 23.9 -0.3 22.5 4th 339.0 265.4 high 128%
Central Arnhem Plateau 32.0 -1.5 36.3 3rd 23.0 -0.6 21.3 12th 425.4 244.1 high 174%
Channel Point 32.1 -0.2 35.0 4th 24.6 -0.5 22.7 4th 397.5 320.0 average 124%
Charles Point 31.4   33.6 10th 25.5   23.5 17th 401.4
Croker Island Airport 31.8   33.7 10th 25.4   23.8 23rd 474.6
Darwin Airport 32.6 -0.1 35.9 10th 25.0 -0.3 22.5 16th 382.0 250.3 high 153%
Delamere Weapons Range 34.6 -1.5 40.3 8th 24.3 -0.4 22.3 31st 297.8 173.4 v high 172%
Douglas River Research Farm 34.0 -1.1 37.0 9th 24.0 +0.2 21.4 2nd 255.6 213.0 high 120%
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 32.5 -0.2 35.0 3rd 25.2 -1.0 23.7 17th 450.4 289.9 high 155%
Jabiru Airport 33.8 -1.4 37.7 10th 24.9 -0.1 23.5 30th 300.8 222.9 high 135%
Kangaroo Flats (Defence) 33.6   37.1 10th 24.4   22.4 1st 518.6
McCluer Island 31.5 -0.7 33.3 11th 26.8 -0.4 24.4 22nd 286.4 191.9 high 149%
Middle Point 33.4 -1.7 36.2 3rd 24.1 -0.1 21.9 4th 403.8 235.1 high 172%
Mount Bundey North (Defence) 33.2   36.5 10th 24.3   22.5 13th 405.0
Mount Bundey South (Defence) 33.9   37.0 10th 24.4   22.1 23rd 332.8
Murganella Airstrip 32.5   35.3 11th 24.2   22.4 27th 482.4
Noonamah Airstrip 33.0   36.0 3rd 24.6   22.6 16th 576.0
Oenpelli Airport 34.0   38.3 11th 25.1   23.8 17th 281.4
Pirlangimpi Airport 32.1 -0.8 34.5 3rd 24.6 -0.2 22.8 17th 301.8 341.7 average 88%
Point Fawcett 32.2 -0.5 34.9 11th 25.2 -0.5 23.3 1st 388.2 290.4 high 134%
Point Stuart 32.7 -1.3 35.9 11th 24.7 -0.5 23.1 13th 391.4 219.5 high 178%
Port Keats Airport 32.8 -0.9 35.8 16th 24.4 -1.1 23.1 4th 266.2 200.2 average 133%
Tindal RAAF 34.8 -1.0 39.0 8th 24.7 -0.2 23.1 13th 316.0 210.0 high 150%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Cape Wessel 33.3   35.0 12th 25.6   23.4 27th 160.6 128.6 average 125%
Gove Airport 32.3 -0.8 35.0 8th 25.2 +0.5 23.6 31st 282.6 176.3 high 160%
Groote Eylandt Airport 33.6 -0.9 36.9 7th 25.1 +0.1 24.1 12th 294.6 182.2 high 162%
Maningrida Airport 32.2 -1.3 34.0 11th 24.8 -0.6 23.4 23rd 379.8 161.6 v high 235%
Milingimbi Airport 32.6 -1.4 34.5 10th 25.3 -0.7 23.5 20th 443.0 158.0 v high 280%
Ngayawili 31.8 -1.1 33.5 1st 25.7 -0.1 23.9 17th 346.2 221.6 high 156%
Warruwi Airport 32.1 -1.1 36.0 11th 25.4 -0.9 21.9 14th 504.6 194.9 v high 259%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola Airport 35.8 -0.9 41.5 7th 25.2 0.0 22.8 30th 199.0 131.4 high 151%
Bulman 35.9 -1.5 40.2 9th     23.9 5th 122.8 189.6 low 65%
Centre Island 34.0 -0.8 37.9 7th 26.9 -0.5 23.7 29th 432.6 136.6 v high 317%
Daly Waters Airstrip 35.6 -1.8 41.2 8th 24.3 0.0 21.0 15th 386.6 119.1 v high 325%
McArthur River Mine Airport 36.2 -1.6 41.3 9th 25.1 0.0 22.8 31st 245.4 123.5 v high 199%
Ngukurr Airport 36.6   41.1 7th 25.8   23.0 31st 236.0
Victoria (district 14F)
Bradshaw 35.4 -1.4 40.6 16th 25.6 0.0 22.9 2nd 247.0 195.6 high 126%
Bradshaw - Angallari Valley (Defence) 35.6   39.6 16th 25.7   21.9 2nd 188.0
Bradshaw - Koolendong Valley (Defence) 35.1   39.6 16th 24.3   21.2 2nd 261.4
Lajamanu Airport 35.9 -2.6 41.1 6th 24.1 -0.3 20.4 23rd 320.2 80.7 highest 397%
Victoria River Downs 36.0 -1.9 40.8 7th 25.3 +0.1 23.3 15th 162.0 118.9 high 136%
Wave Hill 36.1 -2.0 41.0 1st 24.7 +0.1 19.0 14th 231.5 115.1 v high 201%
Barkly (district 15A)
Elliott 36.6 -2.0 41.6 7th 25.1 +0.6 22.0 25th 168.2 103.4 high 163%
Tennant Creek Airport 35.8 -1.5 41.7 1st 24.5 -0.4 18.3 24th 188.6 75.8 high 249%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 32.9 -2.6 43.5 5th 21.1 +0.8 14.1 24th 86.6 38.7 high 224%
Arltunga 32.1 -2.8 42.7 5th 20.4 0.0 13.2 24th 140.8 42.6 v high 331%
Curtin Springs 35.0 -1.5 42.0 4th     17.2 30th 4.0 31.5 low 13%
Jervois 35.7 -2.1 46.0 5th 23.2 +1.6 13.7 24th 117.8 40.3 v high 292%
Rabbit Flat 35.9 -3.0 43.5 4th     18.9 23rd 281.4 78.2 highest 360%
Territory Grape Farm 33.0 -3.6 42.3 5th 21.6 +0.3 15.4 24th 320.8 62.4 highest 514%
Walungurru Airport 35.5 -3.2 44.1 17th 24.5 -0.5 18.3 10th 76.0 59.9 high 127%
Yulara Airport 34.7 -2.0 42.6 4th 21.0 0.0 16.1 23rd 17.4 43.2 average 40%

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 on Friday 8 January 2021. 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