Northern Territory in February 2017: Wet start to the month before a monsoon break

February saw above average rainfall across the Top End, while the southern half of the Northern Territory experienced drier than average conditions. Both maximum and minimum temperatures were below average through much of the Territory. Tropical cyclone Alfred became the first tropical cyclone to form in the Northern Region in almost two years.

Wet start to the month with active monsoon

  • The month began with monsoonal conditions across the Top End. During this monsoon burst, several sites across the north-western Top End recorded their highest February daily rainfall on record, with daily falls exceeding 200 mm at some locations. On the 5th, Darwin Airport recorded 201.8 mm, its 11th-highest daily total on record.
  • The focus of rainfall shifted to the eastern Carpentaria District from mid-month, with tropical cyclone Alfred forming in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Centre Island and Bing Bong Port had their highest total February rainfall on record, with Centre Island receiving 461.2 mm between the 19th and 21st.
  • Overall, rainfall over the Top End was above average to well above average. After a wet December and January, dry air dominated over the southern half of the Territory, with average to below average rainfall in the south. Territory-wide, rainfall was 17% above average.
  • Darwin recorded just over 600 mm of rain during February, taking the total for this wet season to over 1800 mm; this is above the long-term average for an entire October to April wet season of around 1670 mm.

Cooler than average across much of the Territory

  • Maximum temperatures were below average across the base of the Top End and central parts of the Territory, owing to above average cloud cover and rainfall. Three locations in the Carpentaria District saw their coldest February day (lowest maximum temperature) on record when tropical cyclone Alfred was in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Borroloola also set its lowest February mean daily maximum temperature on record.
  • In the far southeast, maximum temperatures were above average. The second half of the month also saw above average temperatures in the far north after a cool start to the month, as dry air dominated during a monsoon break period. Pirlangimpi Airport saw its highest February temperature on record on the 23rd, and Darwin Airport had its equal 10th hottest February day on record the same day with 34.7 °C.
  • Much of the Territory saw average to below average minimum temperatures, with cooling rainfall in the north and cloud free nights in the south.
  • Overall, the mean maximum temperature in the NT was 0.27 °C below the long-term average, while the mean minimum temperature was 0.51 °C below average.

First tropical cyclone for Northern Region in almost two years

  • Tropical cyclone Alfred formed in the Gulf of Carpentaria on the 20th. It was the first tropical cyclone in the Northern Region since cyclone Nathan in March 2015.
  • Typically, the Northern Territory region experiences two to three tropical cyclones each cyclone season. The tropical cyclone season runs through to the end of April.
  • The heavy rains during the month caused widespread flooding over the Top End with multiple Flood Warnings for minor and moderate flooding issued for the Daly, Katherine, McArthur and Waterhouse rivers.

Further information

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Extremes in February 2017
Hottest day 43.0 °C at Kulgera on the 11th
Warmest days on average 37.9 °C at Kulgera
37.9 °C at Walungurru Airport
Coolest days on average 30.8 °C at McCluer Island
Coldest day 23.9 °C at Centre Island on the 20th
Coldest night 8.8 °C at Arltunga on the 21st
Coolest nights on average 19.3 °C at Arltunga
Warmest nights on average 26.0 °C at Point Fawcett
Warmest night 28.5 °C at Point Fawcett on the 24th
Warmest on average overall 31.4 °C at Walungurru Airport
Coolest on average overall 27.7 °C at Batchelor Airport
Wettest overall 964.4 mm at Centre Island
Wettest day 290.0 mm at Shoal Bay on the 5th
Strongest wind gust 113 km/h at Centre 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 February daily rainfall
New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Cdu Katherine Rural Campus 165.2 on the 13th 153.2 on the 28th in 1969 55
Centre Island 211.4 on the 20th 197.2 on the 6th in 1982 49
Nightcliff Pool 208.0 on the 5th 199.8 on the 19th in 2008 37
Nathan River 128.0 on the 8th 117.4 on the 29th in 1996 32
Elizabeth Valley 166.0 on the 5th 158.7 on the 16th in 2011 30
Leanyer 254.4 on the 5th 209.8 on the 17th in 2011 28
Channel Point 200.4 on the 5th 146.6 on the 1st in 1993 27
Labelle Downs 170.0 on the 5th 160.0 on the 17th in 2011 27
Shoal Bay 290.0 on the 5th 284.2 on the 16th in 2011 25
Wandie Creek 120.8 on the 10th 116.6 on the 4th in 1992 25
Borroloola Airport 183.2 on the 19th 142.0 on the 12th in 2001 23



Record highest February total rainfall
New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
February
Centre Island 964.4 732.2 in 2001 49 277.9
Bing Bong Port 728.4 620.6 in 2001 21 262.8

Highest February total rainfall for at least 20 years
Observed
(mm)
Most recent
higher
Average for
February
Bullo River 436.9 486.2 in 1969* 203.6

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




Record highest February temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
February
Pirlangimpi Airport 36.5 on the 23rd 35.9 on the 22nd in 2016 36 31.6



Record lowest February daily maximum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
February
Centre Island 23.9 on the 20th 26.7 on the 11th in 1977 43 33.1
McArthur River Mine Airport 25.1 on the 20th 25.4 on the 14th in 1974 41 35.3
Borroloola Airport 24.2 on the 19th 25.5 on the 27th in 2001 23 34.0



Record lowest February mean daily maximum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
February
Borroloola Airport 31.5 31.7 in 2001 22 34.0

Lowest February mean daily maximum temperature for at least 20 years
Observed
(°C)
Most recent
lower
Average for
February
Centre Island 31.1 =31.1 in 1993 33.1



Record lowest February temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
February
Lajamanu Airport 16.0 on the 21st = 16.0 on the 15th in 2009 26 23.5
Territory Grape Farm 11.0 on the 20th 12.2 on the 19th in 1994 24 21.6



Record lowest February mean daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
February
Brunette Downs 22.1 22.5 in 1975 52 24.1
Centre Island 25.0 25.3 in 1993 42 26.6



Record lowest February mean temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
February
Centre Island 28.1 = 28.1 in 1975 42 29.8
Borroloola Airport 27.8 28.1 in 2011 22 29.3



Summary statistics for February 2017
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean for
February
2017
Diff
from
average
Highest for
February
2017
Mean for
February
2017
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
February
2017
Total for
February
2017
Average
for
February
Rank of
February
2017
Fraction of
February
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Airport 32.0 -0.4 36.9 23rd 23.5 -0.3 21.4 22nd 275.4 342.4 average 80%
Bradshaw 34.2 -1.0 38.7 23rd 24.6 -0.2 20.8 21st 204.0
Channel Point 31.1 -0.5 33.6 20th 25.2 +0.1 23.4 10th 662.0 404.3 high 164%
Croker Island Airport 31.2   34.2 26th 25.5   22.6 19th 409.8
Darwin Airport 31.6 +0.2 34.7 23rd 25.1 +0.4 23.3 9th 606.6 374.4 high 162%
Delamere Weapons Range 33.0 -1.5 36.8 23rd 23.2 -0.7 19.4 21st 224.2 216.7 average 103%
Douglas River 32.8 -0.6 37.0 23rd 23.4 -0.3 19.5 22nd 365.6 288.5 average 127%
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 31.0 -0.4 33.8 28th 25.5 0.0 22.6 20th 750.0 418.0 high 179%
Jabiru Airport 33.4 +0.1 37.4 23rd 24.4 -0.1 22.4 18th 358.2 357.2 average 100%
Katherine Country Club 33.5   37.3 23rd 23.6   20.6 24th 322.4
McCluer Island 30.8 -0.3 33.1 26th 25.9 -0.4 23.6 19th 498.8 241.7 v high 206%
Middle Point 32.9 -0.5 37.4 23rd 24.1 +0.1 21.4 19th 330.0 298.2 average 111%
Murganella Airstrip 32.0   35.8 23rd 23.9   22.5 19th 386.0
Noonamah Airstrip 32.4   37.5 23rd 24.1   22.0 20th 529.4
Oenpelli Airport 32.6   36.3 23rd 24.6   22.2 19th 407.4
Pirlangimpi Airport 32.3 +0.7 36.5 23rd 24.9 +0.4 23.2 10th 264.8 379.7 low 70%
Point Fawcett 31.9 +0.3 33.9 26th 26.0 +0.4 22.7 20th 331.0 275.3 high 120%
Point Stuart 32.3   36.5 23rd 24.8   22.0 19th 235.4 274.0 low 86%
Port Keats Airport 31.9 -0.9 37.0 23rd 23.8 -1.0 19.8 21st 531.8 307.4 high 173%
Tindal RAAF 33.3 -0.6 36.5 23rd 23.6 -0.5 20.1 22nd 316.0 233.4 high 135%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Cape Wessel 31.3   33.3 1st 25.6   23.3 17th 287.8 257.4 average 112%
Gove Airport 31.2 -0.3 33.4 22nd 24.8 +0.3 23.1 21st 201.0 279.1 average 72%
Groote Eylandt Airport 31.7 -1.3 33.6 22nd 25.1 +0.2 23.4 28th 396.2 243.6 high 163%
Maningrida Airport 31.9 -0.3 34.5 16th 24.4 -0.4 22.9 1st 241.6 267.6 average 90%
Milingimbi Airport 32.3 -0.4 34.8 25th 25.0 -0.2 23.4 1st 339.8 234.7 high 145%
Ngayawili 31.1 -0.4 33.5 26th 25.4 -0.2 23.5 1st 451.4 310.1 high 146%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola Airport 31.5 -2.5 34.3 26th 24.1 -0.4 21.4 21st 632.6 225.1 v high 281%
Bulman 33.3 -1.3 36.4 23rd 23.9 -0.1 22.0 21st 320.0 220.0 high 145%
Centre Island 31.1 -2.0 33.8 17th 25.0 -1.6 22.2 21st 964.4 277.9 highest 347%
Daly Waters Airstrip 33.2 -1.7 36.4 22nd 22.8 -0.6 17.3 21st 303.6 182.3 high 167%
McArthur River Mine Airport 32.6 -2.7 36.1 28th 24.5 -0.2 20.5 21st 395.4 183.2 v high 216%
Ngukurr Airport 33.1   36.1 22nd 24.8   23.0 21st 312.2
Victoria (district 14F)
Lajamanu Airport 35.3 -0.9 38.5 23rd 22.7 -0.8 16.0 21st 108.8 146.7 average 74%
Victoria River Downs 33.8 -1.7 37.6 23rd 23.7 -0.8 19.4 22nd 291.0 162.2 high 179%
Wave Hill 34.4 -1.6 37.5 16th 22.9 -0.9 17.0 21st 197.4 171.3 average 115%
Barkly (district 15A)
Brunette Downs 33.5 -2.8 36.3 26th 22.1 -2.0 18.0 21st 89.0 100.8 average 88%
Elliott 33.5 -3.1 36.4 16th 23.9 +0.2 18.5 21st 132.0 158.4 average 83%
Tennant Creek Airport 35.2 -0.5 38.3 28th 23.6 -0.8 20.2 21st 33.2 120.7 low 28%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 37.3 +2.2 41.9 12th 20.1 -0.6 10.8 20th 4.0 42.5 low 9%
Arltunga 35.1 +0.7 39.7 12th 19.3 -1.7 8.8 21st 11.2 42.9 average 26%
Curtin Springs 37.6 +1.1 41.8 9th 20.9 -0.7 12.7 20th 9.0 26.0 average 35%
Jervois 37.8 +0.9 41.5 17th 21.6 -0.5 12.7 21st 29.0 57.1 average 51%
Kulgera 37.9 +2.4 43.0 11th 20.0 -1.4 12.0 20th 0 33.8 lowest 0%
Rabbit Flat 36.5 -0.8 40.7 17th 22.1 -1.3 14.2 21st 61.6 89.6 average 69%
Territory Grape Farm 36.2 -0.1 39.6 17th 19.9 -1.7 11.0 20th 1.0 62.0 v low 2%
Walungurru Airport 37.9 -0.8 41.1 17th 25.0 -0.8 21.1 21st 33.4 34.0 average 98%
Yulara Airport 37.7 +0.8 40.8 1st 21.3 -0.8 13.5 21st 19.2 38.9 average 49%

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 11 am on Wednesday 1 March 2017. Some checks have been made on the data, but it is possible that results will change as new information becomes available.

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