Northern Territory in December 2019: hottest December on record and very dry

December 2019 in the Northern Territory had the highest ever recorded mean maximum temperature for December, and for any month. The mean temperature was also the highest recorded in December. The month was the fourth-driest December on record, with virtually the entire NT receiving below average rainfall.

Warmest December on record

  • The Territory's mean temperature and mean maximum temperature were the highest ever recorded in the NT for December, with the mean maximum being the highest for any month. The entire NT observed well above average mean maximum temperatures, with over two-thirds of the Territory recording its highest on record
  • The mean maximum temperature averaged across the NT in December 2019 was 4.01 °C above the long-term average. This is the highest positive anomaly for any month recorded in the Territory, exceeding the previous high of September 2013. It was also the first time a monthly anomaly exceeded 4.0 °C
  • The mean temperature of 3.12 °C above average was the highest ever recorded in December, beating the previous high of 2.88 °C in December 2018
  • Multiple sites broke temperature records, including for: highest December temperature on record, highest December mean daily maximum temperature on record, highest December mean daily maximum temperature for at least 20 years, highest December mean temperature on record and highest December mean temperature for at least 20 years
  • The highest temperature recorded in the NT in December 2019 was 47.9 °C at Rabbit Flat, in the Tanami District, on 25 December. This is the highest ever December temperature recorded in the Territory and the third-highest observed in any month
  • Territory-wide, the mean minimum temperature was 2.23 °C above average, the second-highest on record after December 2018. Most of the NT observed mean minimum temperatures between 1 and 3 °C above the long-term average
  • Many sites had either their highest December mean daily minimum temperature on record and/or their warmest December night (highest daily minimum temperature) on record
  • The minimum temperature at Walungurru (Kintore), in the Lasseter District, on 26 December was 36.0 °C. This is the highest minimum temperature recorded in the NT for any month and the third-highest in Australia for any month

Fourth driest December on record

  • Averaged across the Northern Territory, rainfall during December 2019 was 73% below the long-term average. This was the fourth-lowest on record and lowest since 1955
  • A delayed start to the Australian monsoon (typical onset at Darwin is around Christmas time) contributed to most of the NT having less than 40% of its normal December rainfall
  • Many sites had either their lowest total December rainfall on record or lowest total December rainfall for at least 20 years

Darwin Airport

  • Total rainfall for Darwin Airport was 60.8 mm, which is 24% of the long-term average of 248.7 mm. This was Darwin Airport's lowest December rainfall since 1991, and the third-lowest since records commenced in 1941
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Darwin Airport was 35.3 °C, which is 2.6 °C above the long-term average of 32.7 °C; the highest mean maximum on record, exceeding the previous mark of 34.4 °C from December 2002. The warmest day was 37.1 °C on the 9th (highest December temperature on record), and the coolest day was on the 28th when the temperature reached 33.8 °C
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Darwin Airport was 26.2 °C, which is 0.9 °C above the long-term average of 25.3 °C. The coldest morning was 21.7 °C on the 15th, and the warmest morning was on the 27th when the minimum temperature was 30.2 °C (Darwin Airport's highest daily minimum temperature for any month)

Alice Springs Airport

  • Total rainfall for Alice Springs Airport was 1.4 mm, compared to the long-term average of 38.1 mm. This was Alice Spring's lowest December rainfall since 2002, and the equal third-lowest since records commenced in 1941
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 40.8 °C, which is 5.4 °C above the long-term average of 35.4 °C and the highest recorded at Alice Springs Airport since records commenced in 1941 (1.8 °C above the previous record of 2018). The warmest day was 45.7 °C on the 25th (highest temperature for all months), and the coolest day was on the 1st when the temperature reached 29.9 °C
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 22.2 °C, which is 1.9 °C above the long-term average of 20.3 °C. The coldest morning was 12.5 °C on the 1st, and the warmest morning was on the 20th when the minimum temperature was 29.3 °C
  • Alice Springs Airport also had its highest December mean temperature on record in 2019, with 31.5 °C

Severe weather in the NT

  • Widespread thunderstorm activity on 17 December generated severe wind gusts of 117 km/h at Middle Point, 115 km/h at Douglas River and 94 km/h at Batchelor. There was also radar evidence of severe thunderstorms near Warruwi in the northern Top End.
  • Darwin Harbour recorded a severe wind gust of 93 km/h from a multicell thunderstorm system on 24 December
  • A severe wind gust of 94 km/h, associated with thunderstorms, was observed at Central Arnhem on 26 December
  • A severe squall-line thunderstorm complex which passed over Arnhem Land before tracking further east, generated wind gusts of 107 km/h at McCluer Island and 94 km/h at Croker Island on the 27th. This line of storms produced daily rainfall of 111 mm at Oenpelli and 79 mm at Point Stuart in the 24 hours to 9am on the 28th
  • Territory Grape Farm, north of Alice Springs, had a 90 km/h wind gust from a pulse thunderstorm on 28 December
  • Also on the 28th, a separate thunderstorm system produced severe wind gusts of 120 km/h at Victoria River Downs, 102 km/h at Bradshaw and 98km/h at Delamere, south of Katherine

Further information

Media
(03) 9669 4057
Enquiries

Extremes in December 2019
Hottest day 47.9 °C at Rabbit Flat on the 25th
Warmest days on average 43.4 °C at Rabbit Flat
Coolest days on average 33.5 °C at McCluer Island
Coldest day 28.5 °C at Central Arnhem Plateau on the 27th
Coldest night 10.9 °C at Arltunga on the 15th
Coolest nights on average 20.6 °C at Arltunga
Warmest nights on average 28.8 °C at McCluer Island
Warmest night 36.0 °C at Walungurru Airport on the 26th
Warmest on average overall 35.3 °C at Walungurru Airport
Coolest on average overall 29.6 °C at Arltunga
Wettest overall 195.8 mm at Oenpelli Airport
Wettest day 111.0 mm at Oenpelli Airport on the 28th
Strongest wind gust 120 km/h at Victoria River Downs on the 28th

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 December total rainfall
New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
December
Larrimah 1.2 15.0 in 1955 67 146.8
Darwin Botanic Gardens 22.4 47.3 in 1982 66 261.8
Adelaide River Post Office 86.5 90.5 in 2018 56 259.7
Daly Waters Airstrip 0.2 30.2 in 2002 51 113.9
McArthur River Mine Airport 8.8 22.4 in 1979 49 121.1
Gove Airport 0.4 1.4 in 2002 45 173.9
Montejinni 11.8 12.4 in 1972 45 108.9
Jabiru Airport 32.2 50.0 in 1997 43 221.1
Alcan Minesite 0.0 0.8 in 1982 41 161.7
Tindal RAAF 64.4 72.0 in 2006 36 207.1
Nathan River 6.4 11.2 in 2006 34 145.4
Mount Sanford 0.0 16.0 in 1986 32 136.4
Gilnockie 18.6 32.6 in 1991 31 167.7
Yulara Airport 2.6 2.8 in 1985 31 44.1
Mataranka Airstrip 7.0 41.0 in 1986 29 208.3
Birrindudu 0.0 13.0 in 2018 26 99.9
Borroloola Airport 3.8 14.4 in 2001 26 128.8
CSIRO Berrimah 28.4 117.8 in 2002 23 327.7
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 21.2 106.2 in 2002 23 282.9
Geriatric Park 103.0 126.2 in 2014 22 366.4
Moroak 2.0 11.5 in 2013 22 165.9
Ngayawili 0.8 46.8 in 2012 21 215.7

Lowest December total rainfall for at least 20 years
Observed
(mm)
Most recent
lower
Average for
December
Victoria River Downs 2.2 0.0 in 1889* 118.2
Katherine Council 42.6 35.3 in 1938* 198.6
The Garden 1.0 0.0 in 1972* 43.0
Centre Island 1.2 0.2 in 1985 130.9
Warruwi Airport 49.4 41.4 in 1986* 191.8
Waterloo 39.8 0.0 in 1985* 111.4
Darwin Airport 60.8 18.8 in 1991 248.7
Howard Springs Nature Park 76.3 46.9 in 1991 291.1
Leanyer 42.2 13.6 in 1991 291.9
Elizabeth Valley 75.6 74.6 in 1991* 291.7
Watarrka 4.5 2.5 in 1991* 37.3
Moolooloo 42.6 30.5 in 1991* 151.4
Point Fawcett 34.4 0.0 in 1995* 286.1

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




Record highest December temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
December
Alice Springs Airport 45.7 on the 25th 45.6 on the 29th in 2018 79 35.4
Darwin Airport 37.1 on the 9th 37.0 on the 18th in 1976 79 32.7
Victoria River Downs 44.7 on the 7th = 44.7 on the 11th in 2018 54 37.8
Jervois 47.2 on the 25th = 47.2 on the 22nd in 1990 52 37.7
Daly Waters Airstrip 45.6 on the 27th 44.3 on the 2nd in 2007 50 37.3
Jabiru Airport 41.6 on the 7th 39.6 on the 15th in 2014 43 35.1
Kulgera 47.0 on the 29th 45.5 on the 29th in 2018 40 34.9
Yulara Airport 47.1 on the 24th 46.1 on the 30th in 2018 34 36.5
Tindal RAAF 43.1 on the 6th 41.6 on the 1st in 2006 32 35.7
Douglas River Research Farm 41.7 on the 6th 40.7 on the 27th in 2002 30 35.0
Watarrka 46.0 on the 24th = 46.0 on the 30th in 2018 29 36.4
Territory Grape Farm 45.9 on the 25th 45.5 on the 19th in 2018 28 36.4
Borroloola Airport 44.7 on the 26th 44.6 on the 5th in 2018 26 36.5
Rabbit Flat 47.9 on the 25th 47.1 on the 19th in 2018 24 38.7
Delamere Weapons Range 43.6 on the 6th 43.0 on the 1st in 2006 23 35.9
Point Fawcett 36.5 on the 20th 35.3 on the 11th in 2003 23 32.6
Arltunga 44.5 on the 25th 43.6 on the 19th in 2018 20 34.6



Record highest December mean daily maximum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
December
Alice Springs Airport 40.8 39.0 in 2018 78 35.4
Darwin Airport 35.3 34.4 in 2002 78 32.7
Warruwi Airport 35.6 34.7 in 2003 52 33.2
Jervois 41.9 40.5 in 2018 51 37.7
Tennant Creek Airport 41.4 41.3 in 2018 50 37.2
Daly Waters Airstrip 41.5 40.8 in 2002 49 37.3
Centre Island 37.0 36.8 in 1990 45 34.7
Jabiru Airport 39.0 37.1 in 2012 42 35.1
McArthur River Mine Airport 41.6 40.6 in 1990 42 37.7
Gove Airport 35.2 34.9 in 2017 40 33.1
Yulara Airport 41.5 39.5 in 2018 33 36.5
Tindal RAAF 40.8 38.0 in 1986 31 35.7
Douglas River Research Farm 38.0 = 38.0 in 2002 29 35.0
Black Point 34.6 34.1 in 2018 27 32.6
Territory Grape Farm 41.0 40.6 in 2018 27 36.4
Borroloola Airport 41.4 39.0 in 2018 25 36.5
Batchelor Airport 36.3 36.2 in 2002 23 33.9
Delamere Weapons Range 40.3 39.5 in 2002 22 35.9
Point Fawcett 35.2 33.8 in 2014 22 32.6
Bradshaw 39.9 39.6 in 2018 21 36.7
Groote Eylandt Airport 36.6 36.0 in 2005 20 34.4
McCluer Island 33.5 = 33.5 in 2002 20 32.1

Highest December mean daily maximum temperature for at least 20 years
Observed
(°C)
Most recent
higher
Average for
December
Victoria River Downs 41.6 42.2 in 1972 37.8



Record highest December daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
December
Darwin Airport 30.2 on the 27th 30.0 on the 12th in 2018 79 25.3
Warruwi Airport 30.0 on the 27th = 30.0 on the 6th in 2002 52 26.3
Tennant Creek Airport 33.1 on the 27th 32.1 on the 31st in 1986 51 24.9
Daly Waters Airstrip 31.3 on the 27th 30.1 on the 16th in 1959 50 24.2
Yulara Airport 32.5 on the 25th 30.8 on the 1st in 1996 34 20.9
Tindal RAAF 29.1 on the 12th 28.8 on the 7th in 2012 32 24.8
Watarrka 32.0 on the 28th = 32.0 on the 21st in 1990 29 21.8
Lajamanu Airport 30.3 on the 26th 30.1 on the 2nd in 2007 28 24.3
Territory Grape Farm 31.1 on the 26th 30.0 on the 21st in 2003 28 21.3
Black Point 30.4 on the 27th 30.2 on the 9th in 2009 27 26.2
Point Fawcett 30.1 on the 27th 29.9 on the 12th in 2018 23 25.6
Bradshaw 29.4 on the 8th 29.2 on the 12th in 2018 22 25.5
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 30.4 on the 27th 30.0 on the 12th in 2018 22 26.1
McCluer Island 30.3 on the 27th 30.0 on the 7th in 2018 21 27.2
Arltunga 29.9 on the 26th 28.4 on the 24th in 2009 20 20.4
Port Keats Airport 30.0 on the 27th 29.6 on the 12th in 2018 20 25.5



Record lowest December temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
December
Batchelor Airport 19.1 on the 11th 19.9 on the 11th in 2009 24 24.2



Record highest December mean daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
December
Warruwi Airport 27.9 27.6 in 1995 51 26.3
Jabiru Airport 26.4 26.0 in 2014 43 25.0
Elliott 26.6 26.4 in 2018 38 24.4
Yulara Airport 24.0 23.6 in 2012 33 20.9
Tindal RAAF 26.8 25.6 in 2018 31 24.8
McCluer Island 28.8 28.1 in 2012 20 27.2

Highest December mean daily minimum temperature for at least 20 years
Observed
(°C)
Most recent
higher
Average for
December
Daly Waters Airstrip 26.0 26.2 in 1952* 24.2

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




Record highest December mean temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
December
Alice Springs Airport 31.5 30.3 in 2018 78 27.9
Darwin Airport 30.8 30.6 in 2018 78 29.0
Jervois 32.3 31.7 in 2003 51 29.6
Warruwi Airport 31.7 31.1 in 1995 51 29.7
Daly Waters Airstrip 33.7 32.9 in 2018 49 30.8
Jabiru Airport 32.7 31.4 in 2018 42 30.1
Elliott 34.3 = 34.3 in 2018 38 31.5
Yulara Airport 32.8 31.0 in 2012 33 28.7
Tindal RAAF 33.8 31.8 in 1986 31 30.2
Douglas River Research Farm 31.2 = 31.2 in 2002 28 29.5
Territory Grape Farm 31.9 = 31.9 in 2018 27 28.8
Black Point 31.2 31.1 in 2018 26 29.4
Borroloola Airport 33.3 32.6 in 2018 25 30.9
Delamere Weapons Range 33.0 32.8 in 2002 22 30.3
Point Fawcett 30.7 30.3 in 2014 22 29.1
Bradshaw 33.3 33.2 in 2018 21 31.1
McCluer Island 31.1 30.7 in 2002 20 29.6

Highest December mean temperature for at least 20 years
Observed
(°C)
Most recent
higher
Average for
December
Centre Island 32.7 32.8 in 1990 31.0
McArthur River Mine Airport 33.9 34.0 in 1990* 31.4

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




Summary statistics for December 2019
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean for
December
2019
Diff
from
average
Highest for
December
2019
Mean for
December
2019
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
December
2019
Total for
December
2019
Average
for
December
Rank of
December
2019
Fraction of
December
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Airport 36.3 +2.4 39.0 7th 24.1 -0.1 19.1 11th 141.2 262.5 low 54%
Black Point 34.6 +2.0 35.2 18th 27.8 +1.6 22.9 28th 35.1 208.2 v low 17%
Central Arnhem Plateau 36.7 +3.5 40.3 7th 24.5 +0.9 21.7 13th 71.0 232.7 low 31%
Charles Point 33.7   34.6 19th 27.0   23.4 14th 36.6
Croker Island Airport 34.9   36.1 21st 27.7   22.1 28th 75.4
Darwin Airport 35.3 +2.6 37.1 9th 26.2 +0.9 21.7 15th 60.8 248.7 v low 24%
Delamere Weapons Range 40.3 +4.4 43.6 6th 25.7 +1.1 20.7 27th 58.0 167.7 low 35%
Douglas River Research Farm 38.0 +3.0 41.7 6th 24.4 +0.6 20.7 19th 105.0 211.9 low 50%
Jabiru Airport 39.0 +3.9 41.6 7th 26.4 +1.4 23.0 28th 32.2 221.1 lowest 15%
Kangaroo Flats (Defence) 36.4   39.0 7th 24.8   21.1 18th 111.2
McCluer Island 33.5 +1.4 34.7 17th 28.8 +1.6 22.9 28th 71.8 188.1 low 38%
Middle Point 37.3 +2.3 40.4 7th 24.1 -0.1 22.3 28th 63.2 226.2 v low 28%
Mount Bundey North (Defence) 38.1   40.5 7th 25.4   22.5 12th 77.6
Mount Bundey South (Defence) 39.0   41.9 7th 26.1   23.9 12th 60.2
Murganella Airstrip 36.2   39.0 4th 24.3   22.1 28th 66.2
Noonamah Airstrip 36.5   39.0 24th 24.9   21.3 14th 112.2
Oenpelli Airport 39.1   42.2 7th 25.7   21.9 28th 195.8
Pirlangimpi Airport 34.6 +1.7 36.6 7th 25.1 +0.3 22.9 28th 180.2 342.5 low 53%
Point Fawcett 35.2 +2.6 36.5 20th 26.3 +0.7 24.0 25th 34.4 286.1 v low 12%
Point Stuart 36.2 +2.5 38.3 26th 25.5 +0.3 22.3 13th 89.0 211.7 low 42%
Port Keats Airport 36.0 +2.4 38.8 19th 26.4 +0.9 23.1 24th 23.2 196.9 v low 12%
Tindal RAAF 40.8 +5.1 43.1 6th 26.8 +2.0 21.3 6th 64.4 207.1 lowest 31%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Cape Wessel 35.9   37.0 14th 26.6   24.2 6th 3.0 127.4 v low 2%
Gove Airport 35.2 +2.1 38.0 4th 25.0 +0.4 22.0 1st 0.4 173.9 lowest 0%
Groote Eylandt Airport 36.6 +2.2 39.5 26th 24.2 -0.9 18.9 5th 18.6 176.9 v low 11%
Maningrida Airport 35.1 +1.7 37.4 4th 26.1 +0.8 22.3 28th 29.4 148.8 v low 20%
Milingimbi Airport 35.8 +1.9 39.5 4th 26.3 +0.3 23.2 28th 23.6 141.3 v low 17%
Ngayawili 34.0 +1.1 35.5 23rd 26.0 +0.2 22.4 4th 0.8 215.7 lowest 0%
Warruwi Airport 35.6 +2.4 37.4 6th 27.9 +1.6 23.1 28th 49.4 191.8 v low 26%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola Airport 41.4 +4.9 44.7 26th 25.2 0.0 19.5 6th 3.8 128.8 lowest 3%
Bulman 40.8 +3.6 43.6 6th 25.8 +1.0 22.8 28th 41.4 193.3 v low 21%
Centre Island 37.0 +2.3 39.5 15th 28.4 +1.0 25.9 6th 1.2 130.9 v low 1%
Daly Waters Airstrip 41.5 +4.2 45.6 27th 26.0 +1.8 17.0 6th 0.2 113.9 lowest 0%
McArthur River Mine Airport 41.6 +3.9 44.1 26th 26.1 +1.0 19.8 6th 8.8 121.1 lowest 7%
Ngukurr Airport 42.3   44.0 15th 26.8   23.0 6th 0.6
Victoria (district 14F)
Bradshaw 39.9 +3.2 44.1 6th 26.6 +1.1 22.1 28th 70.8 193.2 low 37%
Bradshaw - Angallari Valley (Defence) 40.6   45.2 6th 27.0   21.9 14th 128.0
Bradshaw - Koolendong Valley (Defence) 39.4   44.1 6th 26.5   22.9 30th 69.8
Lajamanu Airport 43.1 +4.8 46.0 17th 26.3 +2.0 21.3 3rd 18.2 76.6 low 24%
Victoria River Downs 41.6 +3.8 44.7 7th 26.6 +1.4 21.3 7th 2.2 118.2 v low 2%
Barkly (district 15A)
Elliott 42.0 +3.5 45.1 17th 26.6 +2.2 20.3 1st 9.4 102.4 v low 9%
Tennant Creek Airport 41.4 +4.2 44.5 24th 27.5 +2.6 21.6 1st 31.0 73.6 low 42%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 40.8 +5.4 45.7 25th 22.2 +1.9 12.5 1st 1.4 38.1 v low 4%
Arltunga 39.0 +4.4 44.5 25th 20.6 +0.2 10.9 15th 15.2 41.3 average 37%
Jervois 41.9 +4.2 47.2 25th 22.8 +1.3 14.1 4th 1.6 38.8 v low 4%
Rabbit Flat 43.4 +4.7 47.9 25th 24.5 +0.7 18.4 3rd 26.4 69.7 low 38%
Territory Grape Farm 41.0 +4.6 45.9 25th 22.8 +1.5 16.8 2nd 8.2 54.6 low 15%
Walungurru Airport 42.4 +4.0 47.7 25th 28.4 +3.5 20.2 1st 0.2 59.0 low 0%
Yulara Airport 41.5 +5.0 47.1 24th 24.0 +3.1 13.6 1st 2.6 44.1 lowest 6%

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 10 am on Monday 6 January 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
Enquiries