Northern Territory in February 2019: Very warm, very dry

Continuing on from the very warm past two months, temperatures in the Northern Territory during February 2019 were well above average, particularly with respect to daytime temperatures. Rainfall across the Territory was mostly very much below average, with no significant monsoonal activity during February across the Top End.

Warmest February since 1986

  • Daytime temperatures across the NT were very much above average virtually everywhere, apart from a region along the eastern border: averaged across the Territory, the mean maximum temperature in February was 2.77 °C above the long-term average, the 4th-highest on record and highest since 1986
  • Some of the southeastern NT saw cooler than average overnight temperatures, although in the northern half, overnight temperatures were mostly very much above average: averaged across the Territory, the mean minimum temperature in February was 0.96 °C above the long-term average and 9th-highest on record
  • The mean temperature (maximum and minimum combined) was 1.87 °C above the long-term average, the 4th-highest on record and highest since 1986
  • Parts of the central NT had a monthly maximum temperature in excess of 6 °C above average: several locations in this area and more broadly across the NT had their highest February temperature, including Walungurru which had an NT record February temperature of 46.4 °C on the 19th; other sites had either highest February mean daily maximum temperature on record or highest for at least 20 years
  • Many overnight temperature records were also broken during the month with several sites having either their warmest February night (highest daily minimum temperature) on record, highest February mean daily minimum temperature on record or highest for at least 25 years
  • With very warm days and nights for most of the Territory, many sites accordingly had either their highest February mean temperature on record or highest for at least 30 years
  • The summer months of December to February were the warmest in 109 years of record across the Territory: the mean maximum (3.25 °C), mean minimum (2.08 °C) and mean temperature (2.67 °C) were well above previous long-term records, by approximately one to one and a half degrees
  • An extraordinary heat record occurred at Rabbit Flat, in the Tanami District, with the daily maximum temperature above 39 °C every day of the December to February period

Poor wet season continues

  • Apart from a small area along the eastern border, rainfall across the Territory was below average: Territory-wide, rainfall during February was 64% of normal, the lowest since 1989
  • Much of the Top End and Carpentaria district had rainfall totals of 100 mm to 200 mm below the monthly average, and many sites had either their lowest total February rainfall on record or lowest for at least 20 years
  • In the December to February period, only 49% of normal rainfall was observed across the NT, the 4th-lowest on record for this period; for the wet season to date (October to February), only 35% of normal rainfall total was recorded, the lowest since 1982-83

Darwin Airport

  • Total rainfall for Darwin Airport was 171.6 mm, which is 46% of the long-term average of 371.9 mm
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Darwin Airport was 33.1 °C, which is 1.7 °C above the long-term average of 31.4 °C. The warmest day was 34.6 °C on the 22nd, and the coolest day was on the 4th when the temperature reached 29.7 °C
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Darwin Airport was 26.0 °C, which is 1.3 °C above the long-term average of 24.7 °C, and equal-highest on record. The coldest morning was 23.0 °C on the 4th, and the warmest morning was on the 19th when the minimum temperature was 28.4 °C

Alice Springs Airport

  • Total rainfall for Alice Springs Airport was 0.0 mm, which is 0% of the long-term average of 42.2 mm
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 37.5 °C, which is 2.3 °C above the long-term average of 35.2 °C. The warmest day was 43.0 °C on the 12th, and the coolest day was on the 13th when the temperature reached 32.1 °C
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 20.6 °C, which is 0.1 °C below the long-term average of 20.7 °C. The coldest morning was 13.6 °C on the 15th, and the warmest morning was on the 1st when the minimum temperature was 27.6 °C
  • For the summer period, Alice Springs Airport had its highest mean daily maximum temperature on record: its average of 39.3 °C was more than a degree higher than the previous record and 3.7 °C above average. Mean daily minimum temperature was 22.4 °C (1.6 °C above average) while the rainfall total for the 3 months was only 18.0 mm, well below the long-term average of 121.8 mm

Severe weather across the NT

  • A severe wind gust of nearly 130 km/h was generated by a thunderstorm at Victoria River Downs on the 5th
  • Thunderstorms affected the Daly and Carpentaria districts, generating a gust of 107 km/h at McArthur River Mine on the 21st
  • A thunderstorm squall-line which moved across the central NT produced a gust of 115 km/h at Tindal on the 23rd
  • A wind gust of 91 km/h was recorded at Port Keats Airport on the 26th, associated with an isolated thunderstorm

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Extremes in February 2019
Hottest day 46.4 °C at Walungurru Airport on the 19th
Warmest days on average 42.7 °C at Rabbit Flat
Coolest days on average 31.2 °C at McCluer Island
Coldest day 26.4 °C at Mount Bundey North (Defence) on the 4th
Coldest night 13.6 °C at Alice Springs Airport on the 15th
Coolest nights on average 20.6 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Warmest nights on average 27.9 °C at Walungurru Airport
Warmest night 31.8 °C at Rabbit Flat on the 8th
Warmest on average overall 34.9 °C at Walungurru Airport
Coolest on average overall 28.4 °C at Central Arnhem Plateau
Wettest overall 266.2 mm at Jabiru Airport
Wettest day 108.4 mm at Central Waterhouse on the 4th
Strongest wind gust 115 km/h at Tindal RAAF on the 23rd

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 February total rainfall
New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
February
Darwin River Dam 124.0 134.0 in 1989 48 330.6
Channel Point 158.6 181.8 in 2012 29 392.9
Leanyer 154.0 155.8 in 1992 29 385.1
Batchelor Airport 72.8 110.0 in 2018 23 320.6
Rabbit Flat 1.0 1.6 in 2007 23 83.5
Shoal Bay 147.0 153.5 in 1992 22 409.7
Darwin Hospital 143.0 177.8 in 2006 21 405.3

Lowest February total rainfall for at least 20 years
Observed
(mm)
Most recent
lower
Average for
February
Brunette Downs 6.2 0.0 in 1965 99.6
Tennant Creek Airport 1.8 1.0 in 1989 116.3
Warramunga 6.7 0.0 in 1990 110.6
Elizabeth Valley 113.6 111.8 in 1990* 353.6
CSIRO Berrimah 152.3 121.8 in 1992* 430.9
Stokes Hill 110.4 108.8 in 1981* 322.7

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




Record highest February temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
February
Gove Airport 36.7 on the 22nd 35.7 on the 11th in 1990 41 31.6
Lajamanu Airport 45.5 on the 13th 43.9 on the 16th in 1971 28 36.2
Rabbit Flat 45.3 on the 13th 45.0 on the 18th in 2005 23 37.3
Groote Eylandt Airport 38.6 on the 21st 38.0 on the 1st in 2013 20 33.0



Record highest February mean daily maximum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
February
Lajamanu Airport 42.3 40.4 in 2005 27 36.2
Borroloola Airport 37.9 36.6 in 2016 24 33.9
Batchelor Airport 34.5 = 34.5 in 2016 23 32.4
Rabbit Flat 42.7 40.8 in 2005 22 37.3
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 32.8 = 32.8 in 2016 20 31.4

Highest February mean daily maximum temperature for at least 20 years
Observed
(°C)
Most recent
higher
Average for
February
Tennant Creek Airport 39.8 40.2 in 1986 35.7
Elliott 40.6 40.9 in 1986* 36.5
McArthur River Mine Airport 39.2 39.9 in 1983* 35.3
Wave Hill 40.6 40.7 in 1989* 36.0
Daly Waters Airstrip 38.3 38.4 in 1965* 34.9
Territory Grape Farm 39.0 39.3 in 1996 36.4

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




Record highest February daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
February
Elliott 29.2 on the 12th 28.7 on the 21st in 1992 38 23.7
Lajamanu Airport 29.6 on the 8th 29.2 on the 9th in 1973 28 23.5
Rabbit Flat 31.8 on the 8th 29.5 on the 17th in 2012 23 23.4



Record highest February mean daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
February
Darwin Airport 26.0 = 26.0 in 1964 78 24.7
Wave Hill 25.8 = 25.8 in 1983 44 23.8
Gove Airport 25.8 25.5 in 2016 40 24.6
Elliott 26.0 25.2 in 1983 37 23.7
Lajamanu Airport 26.4 24.7 in 2016 27 23.5
Batchelor Airport 24.3 = 24.3 in 2016 23 23.8
Rabbit Flat 26.0 24.5 in 2018 22 23.4

Highest February mean daily minimum temperature for at least 20 years
Observed
(°C)
Most recent
higher
Average for
February
McArthur River Mine Airport 26.1 27.0 in 1983* 24.7

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




Record highest February mean temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
February
Wave Hill 33.2 33.1 in 1989 44 29.9
Elliott 33.3 33.0 in 1986 37 30.1
Lajamanu Airport 34.4 32.2 in 2005 27 29.8
Borroloola Airport 31.5 30.7 in 2016 24 29.2
Batchelor Airport 29.4 = 29.4 in 2016 23 28.1
Rabbit Flat 34.4 32.0 in 1998 22 30.3
Point Fawcett 29.9 = 29.9 in 2010 21 28.6
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 29.8 29.7 in 2010 20 28.4

Highest February mean temperature for at least 20 years
Observed
(°C)
Most recent
higher
Average for
February
Darwin Airport 29.5 29.6 in 1964 28.1
Tennant Creek Airport 33.0 33.8 in 1986 30.1
McArthur River Mine Airport 32.6 33.5 in 1983* 30.0
Daly Waters Airstrip 31.3 31.5 in 1965* 29.2

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




Summary statistics for February 2019
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean for
February
2019
Diff
from
average
Highest for
February
2019
Mean for
February
2019
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
February
2019
Total for
February
2019
Average
for
February
Rank of
February
2019
Fraction of
February
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Airport 34.5 +2.1 36.3 15th 24.3 +0.5 21.8 4th 72.8 320.6 lowest 23%
Black Point 31.6 +0.4 32.7 26th 26.4 +0.7 23.6 28th 216.6 278.9 average 78%
Central Arnhem Plateau 33.5 +1.6 38.0 22nd 23.4 +0.3 20.6 24th 63.4 234.2 low 27%
Channel Point 32.4 +0.8 33.6 23rd 26.0 +0.9 22.0 4th 158.6 392.9 lowest 40%
Charles Point 32.2   33.2 24th 26.4   22.6 4th 86.2
Croker Island Airport 31.5   33.3 23rd 26.0   22.4 6th 154.2
Darwin Airport 33.1 +1.7 34.6 22nd 26.0 +1.3 23.0 4th 171.6 371.9 low 46%
Delamere Weapons Range 36.9 +2.5 39.0 21st 24.6 +0.7 22.3 3rd 152.0 212.9 average 71%
Douglas River Research Farm 35.3 +1.9 37.2 23rd 24.0 +0.3 21.9 22nd 151.4 284.0 low 53%
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 32.8 +1.4 33.9 24th 26.6 +1.1 22.4 4th 106.8 402.7 low 27%
Jabiru Airport 34.8 +1.5 36.6 14th 24.7 +0.2 22.2 20th 266.2 356.8 average 75%
McCluer Island 31.2 +0.1 32.6 17th 26.7 +0.5 22.6 5th 115.8 237.4 low 49%
Middle Point 35.4 +2.0 37.5 24th 24.0 0.0 22.5 28th 103.6 290.6 low 36%
Mount Bundey North (Defence) 34.4   36.5 23rd 24.1   21.5 9th 198.4
Mount Bundey South (Defence) 35.1   37.1 23rd 24.1   21.3 22nd 127.0
Murganella Airstrip 33.6   36.0 22nd 24.3   21.9 5th 173.4
Noonamah Airstrip 34.3   37.0 22nd 25.0   22.3 4th 34.8
Pirlangimpi Airport 32.9 +1.2 34.7 24th 25.4 +0.9 22.6 1st 176.2 373.0 low 47%
Point Fawcett 32.6 +1.0 33.8 24th 27.1 +1.5 23.2 1st 93.6 273.3 low 34%
Point Stuart 33.3   35.6 22nd 25.0   22.2 24th 181.8 272.9 v low 67%
Port Keats Airport 33.7 +1.0 36.2 26th 25.5 +0.7 22.1 11th 140.4 298.9 low 47%
Tindal RAAF 35.8 +1.9 37.7 15th 24.3 +0.2 20.6 20th 167.4 231.7 average 72%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Cape Wessel 33.3   35.0 18th 27.1   22.1 9th 61.8 245.6 low 25%
Gove Airport 33.6 +2.0 36.7 22nd 25.8 +1.2 21.7 8th 133.8 274.8 low 49%
Groote Eylandt Airport 35.1 +2.1 38.6 21st 25.8 +0.9 23.8 27th 82.0 229.3 v low 36%
Maningrida Airport 33.6 +1.4 36.8 22nd 25.2 +0.4 21.9 24th 111.8 257.3 low 43%
Milingimbi Airport 34.5 +1.8 37.4 21st 25.9 +0.7 22.0 15th 67.6 229.9 low 29%
Ngayawili 32.1 +0.6 33.3 18th 26.3 +0.7 22.3 23rd 138.0 298.0 low 46%
Warruwi Airport 33.2 +1.7 35.1 22nd 26.1 +0.8 20.8 23rd 73.6 232.8 v low 32%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola Airport 37.9 +4.0 41.6 21st 25.1 +0.6 23.0 24th 93.8 213.2 low 44%
Bulman 36.3 +1.7 38.7 21st 24.6 +0.6 20.4 8th 79.4 204.4 v low 39%
Centre Island 35.7 +2.6 38.6 7th 27.8 +1.2 24.5 26th 86.4 270.1 low 32%
Daly Waters Airstrip 38.3 +3.4 41.4 21st 24.3 +0.9 18.8 23rd 150.2 180.1 average 83%
McArthur River Mine Airport 39.2 +3.9 43.8 21st 26.1 +1.4 22.3 22nd 56.0 178.2 low 31%
Ngukurr Airport 37.5   41.2 21st 25.8   22.8 8th 128.2
Victoria (district 14F)
Bradshaw 37.8 +2.6 40.6 22nd 25.7 +0.9 21.8 9th 86.8 197.5 low 44%
Bradshaw - Angallari Valley (Defence) 37.3   40.4 24th 25.0   21.9 3rd 89.0
Lajamanu Airport 42.3 +6.1 45.5 13th 26.4 +2.9 20.0 24th 28.8 142.9 low 20%
Victoria River Downs 38.3 +2.9 40.5 23rd 25.2 +0.8 19.3 6th 33.0 160.4 v low 21%
Wave Hill 40.6 +4.6 42.9 2nd 25.8 +2.0 20.2 24th 56.3 165.4 low 34%
Barkly (district 15A)
Elliott 40.6 +4.1 43.6 21st 26.0 +2.3 22.4 24th 29.6 154.8 low 19%
Tennant Creek Airport 39.8 +4.1 43.2 19th 26.2 +1.8 22.3 3rd 1.8 116.3 v low 2%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 37.5 +2.3 43.0 12th 20.6 -0.1 13.6 15th 0 41.7 lowest 0%
Curtin Springs 39.0 +2.4 43.1 18th 22.2 +0.6 16.5 15th 0 25.5 lowest 0%
Jervois 37.9 +0.9 43.5 19th 21.8 -0.4 16.2 15th 3.2 55.3 low 6%
Rabbit Flat 42.7 +5.4 45.3 13th 26.0 +2.6 17.0 24th 1.0 83.5 lowest 1%
Territory Grape Farm 39.0 +2.6 42.9 19th 21.7 +0.1 16.1 10th 0 58.2 lowest 0%
Walungurru Airport 41.7 +3.0 46.4 19th 27.9 +2.1 23.4 12th 0 30.9 v low 0%
Yulara Airport 39.3 +2.3 43.2 18th 22.2 +0.1 16.0 17th 0 37.1 lowest 0%

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 Friday 1 March 2019. 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

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