Northern Territory in December 2016: Wet end to month

Rainfall was well above the long-term average, Territory-wide, thanks to monsoonal activity in the second half of December. Overall, temperatures in the NT were near average, balanced by warmer than average overnight temperatures and cooler daytime temperatures.

Monsoon makes for a wet second half to the month

  • The first half of December was very dry across all parts of the NT apart from the far south
  • Monsoonal conditions developed across the Top End around 21 December: widespread rainfall of between 50 mm and 200 mm fell across the Top End, with peak falls in excess of 400 mm reported along the west coast associated with a tropical low which tracked southwards near the coast
  • In the last few days of the month, the tropical moisture associated with the monsoon moved inland and impacted the southern NT
  • Many sites in the NT had their highest December daily rainfall while many in the south had their highest total December rainfall on record, causing widespread flooding in some southern districts
  • Overall, the NT had its 3rd-wettest December on record, with a Territory-wide total more than two and a half times the long-term average

Cool days and warm nights in most parts

  • The Top End saw near average daytime temperatures while it was cooler than average further south
  • Most of the NT experienced warmer than average overnight minimum temperatures
  • Territory-wide, the mean daily minimum temperature was 0.73 °C above average, while the mean daily maximum and mean temperatures were below average during December (1.16 °C and 0.20 °C below average, respectively)

First tropical low for the year

  • A tropical low developed off the NT's northwest coast on 18 December and tracked southwards, roughly parallel to the Territory's west coast, before crossing the northern Kimberley coast on 21 December
  • The low was not over open water long enough to attain tropical cyclone intensity, but generated widespread rainfall over parts of northwest Australia for several days
  • On the 25th, this low combined with ex-tropical cyclone Yvette to form a tropical depression which tracked across inland Western Australia and central Australia, producing heavy rainfall and widespread flooding in the southern NT between the 25th and 28th

Further information

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Extremes in December 2016
Hottest day 44.7 °C at Rabbit Flat on the 17th
Warmest days on average 38.0 °C at Lajamanu Airport
Coolest days on average 32.2 °C at McCluer Island
Coldest day 22.5 °C at Arltunga on the 8th
Coldest night 11.0 °C at Kulgera on the 6th
11.0 °C at Kulgera on the 11th
Coolest nights on average 19.0 °C at Kulgera
Warmest nights on average 27.3 °C at McCluer Island
Warmest night 31.9 °C at Victoria River Downs on the 10th
Warmest on average overall 31.9 °C at Victoria River Downs
Coolest on average overall 27.9 °C at Curtin Springs
Wettest overall 650.7 mm at Walker Creek
Wettest day 231.6 mm at Walungurru Airport on the 26th
Strongest wind gust 85 km/h at Cape Wessel on the 30th

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
Curtin Springs 128.0 on the 27th 85.4 on the 5th in 1988 63
Kurundi 121.2 on the 26th 105.0 on the 11th in 2000 59
Elliott 148.0 on the 29th 115.6 on the 18th in 1984 56
Mount Denison 116.6 on the 27th 90.0 on the 12th in 2000 51
Ormiston Gorge 70.0 on the 27th 59.0 on the 4th in 1989 39
Territory Grape Farm 68.2 on the 31st 48.6 on the 15th in 2001 30
Labelle Downs 169.0 on the 22nd 138.2 on the 12th in 1990 28
Yulara Airport 83.8 on the 26th 60.4 on the 27th in 1987 28
Walker Creek 164.0 on the 22nd 157.6 on the 10th in 1998 23



Record highest December total rainfall
New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
December
Helen Springs 206.0 197.8 in 2003 71 64.6
Curtin Springs 238.8 153.2 in 1988 62 32.7
Coniston 266.0 167.8 in 2000 61 48.9
Yuendumu 269.1 214.3 in 1975 61 48.7
Mount Denison 246.8 170.4 in 2001 50 53.3
Ormiston Gorge 180.6 127.8 in 2001 39 44.1
Territory Grape Farm 219.2 119.2 in 2014 30 58.1
Broadmere 340.6 258.0 in 2010 28 122.5
Gemtree Park 166.8 161.8 in 2001 27 52.5
Glen Helen Lodge 216.4 159.4 in 2015 23 57.9

Highest December total rainfall for at least 20 years
Observed
(mm)
Most recent
higher
Average for
December
Labelle Downs 634.5 658.2 in 1987* 324.7

* 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
Douglas River 25.1 on the 30th 25.9 on the 26th in 2015 27 35.0



Record highest December daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
December
Victoria River Downs 31.9 on the 10th 31.2 on the 17th in 1985 49 25.1



Record highest December mean daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
December
Lajamanu Airport 25.2 = 25.2 in 1972 24 24.2

Highest December mean daily minimum temperature for at least 20 years
Observed
(°C)
Most recent
higher
Average for
December
Victoria River Downs 26.2 26.7 in 1992 25.1



Summary statistics for December 2016
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean for
December
2016
Diff
from
average
Highest for
December
2016
Mean for
December
2016
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
December
2016
Total for
December
2016
Average
for
December
Rank of
December
2016
Fraction of
December
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Airport 33.5 -0.3 37.8 10th 24.2 +0.1 22.4 31st 392.0 281.3 high 139%
Black Point 33.0 +0.5 35.0 10th 25.9 -0.2 24.4 1st 119.6 210.4 average 57%
Bradshaw 36.7 +0.2 41.9 6th 25.9 +0.5 22.9 31st 274.6 205.4 high 134%
Central Arnhem Plateau 32.6 -0.6 37.4 8th 23.4 -0.1 19.5 2nd 322.4 250.7 average 129%
Charles Point 32.3   34.1 7th 25.9   22.8 31st 411.2
Darwin Airport 32.6 0.0 35.2 4th 25.2 -0.1 23.2 17th 391.4 254.2 high 154%
Delamere Weapons Range 36.1 +0.4 41.5 7th 24.7 +0.2 21.5 15th 226.0 179.7 high 126%
Douglas River 34.4 -0.6 38.2 9th 24.0 +0.2 22.1 31st 478.8 213.7 v high 224%
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 32.6 +0.1 35.0 4th 25.9 -0.2 22.5 31st 548.0 303.2 high 181%
Jabiru Airport 35.0 0.0 39.1 10th 25.3 +0.4 23.1 12th 160.2 229.9 low 70%
Katherine Country Club 36.8   41.0 8th 25.1   23.0 28th 122.4
McCluer Island 32.2 +0.2 34.1 1st 27.3 +0.2 23.5 22nd 126.8 197.4 low 64%
Middle Point 34.0 -0.9 38.3 10th 24.4 +0.2 23.0 23rd 311.8 251.1 average 124%
Murganella Airstrip 32.5   35.7 10th 24.2   22.5 2nd 373.6
Noonamah Airstrip 33.6   37.0 9th 24.8   23.0 23rd 435.0
Oenpelli Airport 34.7   39.0 10th 24.8   22.9 2nd 232.8
Pirlangimpi Airport 33.2 +0.4 35.6 10th 24.5 -0.2 21.6 1st 567.2 350.3 v high 162%
Point Fawcett 32.8 +0.3 35.1 2nd 25.3 -0.3 23.0 11th 273.2 307.8 average 89%
Point Stuart 33.1   35.9 16th 25.3   23.3 19th 346.6 222.3 high 156%
Port Keats Airport 32.9 -0.6 36.7 4th 25.0 -0.4 21.5 31st 470.0 207.8 high 226%
Tindal RAAF 36.3 +0.7 40.8 8th 25.0 +0.2 22.7 28th 240.8 218.7 average 110%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Cape Wessel 34.4   36.6 3rd 26.7   24.5 31st 89.4 132.4 average 68%
Gove Airport 33.0 0.0 35.6 3rd 24.9 +0.3 23.1 4th 177.0 182.4 average 97%
Groote Eylandt Airport 33.9 -0.4 36.8 8th 24.5 -0.6 21.5 7th 230.2 192.8 average 119%
Maningrida Airport 33.0 -0.4 35.1 10th 25.0 -0.3 22.3 12th 129.8 164.9 low 79%
Milingimbi Airport 33.6 -0.1 35.6 10th 25.6 -0.4 23.5 21st 220.4 155.2 average 142%
Ngayawili 33.1 +0.3 36.2 3rd 25.0 -0.7 22.1 5th 200.4 240.0 average 84%
Warruwi Airport 32.4 -0.8 34.8 11th 25.8 -0.5 23.7 2nd 236.2 195.1 average 121%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola Airport 36.8 +0.5 40.1 10th 25.2 0.0 22.2 4th 132.6 141.4 average 94%
Bulman 36.4 -0.7 40.3 7th 24.7 -0.1 21.2 5th 152.6 206.2 low 74%
Centre Island 35.1 +0.5 37.5 10th 27.1 -0.2 24.4 26th 114.4 135.4 average 84%
Daly Waters Airstrip 37.1 -0.1 42.6 8th 23.6 -0.6 20.3 7th 163.8 118.8 high 138%
McArthur River Mine Airport 37.6 0.0 41.2 4th 25.8 +0.8 22.8 4th 132.2 127.2 average 104%
Ngukurr Airport 37.8   42.4 7th 25.7   23.1 4th 230.0
Victoria (district 14F)
Lajamanu Airport 38.0 0.0 43.5 8th 25.2 +1.0 20.6 12th 184.4 79.3 v high 233%
Victoria River Downs 37.6 -0.1 42.3 8th 26.2 +1.1 23.2 30th 145.6 120.1 average 121%
Wave Hill 37.3 -0.8 42.4 8th 25.8 +1.3 21.7 4th 147.1 117.0 high 126%
Barkly (district 15A)
Brunette Downs 37.1 -1.2 42.2 6th 25.1 +0.8 22.1 11th 267.4 72.1 v high 371%
Elliott 37.3 -1.1 42.4 8th 25.1 +0.7 22.9 23rd 352.0 107.3 v high 328%
Tennant Creek Airport 35.8 -1.3 41.7 8th 24.4 -0.4 18.8 10th 185.4 76.9 v high 241%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 34.0 -1.4 42.2 2nd 22.0 +1.8 12.8 11th 130.6 39.1 v high 334%
Curtin Springs 34.6 -1.8 41.8 1st 21.3 +0.7 14.4 29th 238.8 32.7 highest 730%
Jervois 36.0 -1.7 43.7 2nd 23.3 +1.9 15.5 11th 65.8 40.8 high 161%
Kulgera 34.0 -1.1 42.0 1st 19.0 -1.4 11.0 6th 92.5 33.9 v high 273%
Rabbit Flat 37.5 -1.0 44.7 17th 23.8 +0.1 17.0 13th 145.6 76.5 v high 190%
Territory Grape Farm 34.8 -1.5 41.6 1st 22.1 +1.0 15.3 11th 219.2 58.1 highest 377%
Walungurru Airport 36.0 -2.3 42.6 13th 23.3 -1.5 19.1 15th 425.4 68.1 v high 625%
Yulara Airport 35.0 -1.5 42.2 1st 21.5 +0.7 14.7 12th 214.8 46.5 v high 462%

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 Tuesday 3 January 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