Northern Territory in March 2015: hot, dry conditions; Nathan crosses Top End coast

Tropical cyclone Nathan crossed the Northern Territory coastline at two locations, the first about 40 km south of Nhulunbuy on the 22nd and then again near Maningrida on the 24th. A record setting heatwave affected the Gulf of Carpentaria region for most of the month.

  • Tropical Cyclone Nathan crosses the NT coast
  • Extreme heat sets new temperature records
  • Overall, driest March since 2009

For much of the month the Northern Territory experienced an extended break in monsoonal conditions. With tropical cyclone Nathan to the east and tropical cyclone Olwyn to the west, the NT saw relatively high pressure, southerly winds and cloudless skies. Hot weather began in the southern regions of the NT and gradually pushed northward to the Gulf of Carpentaria region by mid-month. The most notable prolonged heat was at Borroloola where the daily maximum temperature exceeded 38.8 °C (the previous record at the site) on 18 consecutive days from 5 to 22 March. The highest temperature, 43.3 °C, occurred on 12 March, more than 3 °C in excess of the previous record at Borroloola. The hottest day in the Northern Territory was at Jervois on the 19th when the temperature reached 44.0 °C setting a new March record for the NT. Later in the month tropical cyclone Nathan moved over parts of the Top End and high temperatures began to subside. On average, this was the hottest March since 1998 and the seventh hottest on record with a mean temperature of 29.4 °C, which is 1.6 °C above average.

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Extremes in March 2015
Hottest day 44.0 °C at Jervois on the 19th
Warmest days on average 39.9 °C at Borroloola Airport
Coolest days on average 31.2 °C at McCluer Island
Coldest day 23.2 °C at Central Arnhem Plateau on the 24th
Coldest night 9.5 °C at Arltunga on the 16th
Coolest nights on average 17.7 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Warmest nights on average 27.6 °C at Centre Island
Warmest night 29.5 °C at Jervois on the 4th
29.5 °C at Dum In Mirrie Airstrip on the 14th
29.5 °C at Dum In Mirrie Airstrip on the 15th
Warmest on average overall 31.8 °C at Centre Island
31.8 °C at Walungurru Airport
Coolest on average overall 26.1 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Wettest overall 563.0 mm at Nhulunbuy
Driest overall 0 mm at Alice Springs Airport
0 mm at Arltunga
0 mm at Jervois
0 mm at Kulgera
Wettest day 260.8 mm at Fanny Creek on the 25th
Strongest wind gust 109 km/h at Centre Island on the 12th

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 March daily rainfall
New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Alcan Minesite 208.0 on the 24th 154.0 on the 19th in 1996 39



Record highest March total rainfall
New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
March
Alcan Minesite 535.3 515.6 in 1988 37 275.2

Highest March total rainfall for at least 20 years
Observed
(mm)
Most recent
higher
Years since
higher
Average for
March
Nhulunbuy 563.0 952.4 in 1980* 29 271.1

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





Record highest March temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
March
Alice Springs Airport 42.5 on the 19th 42.2 on the 4th in 1951 74 32.6
Curtin Springs 43.4 on the 19th 43.3 on the 2nd in 2007 51 33.7
Yuendumu 41.7 on the 18th 41.1 on the 23rd in 1990 48 33.4
Jervois 44.0 on the 19th 42.5 on the 8th in 2004 47 34.6
Centre Island 38.8 on the 17th 38.1 on the 1st in 1980 41 32.8
Mango Farm 38.9 on the 14th 38.5 on the 11th in 2005 35 33.9
Pirlangimpi Airport 35.6 on the 31st 35.2 on the 21st in 2009 33 32.0
Wollogorang 42.5 on the 20th 40.7 on the 2nd in 1988 30 34.4
Douglas River 38.6 on the 14th 37.6 on the 21st in 1968 24 33.7
Borroloola Airport 43.3 on the 12th 38.8 on the 5th in 2013 21 33.4
Watarrka 42.6 on the 20th 42.3 on the 3rd in 2007 21 34.4


Record highest March mean daily maximum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
March
Centre Island 35.9 34.9 in 1990 40 32.8
McArthur River Mine Airport 38.6 38.5 in 1990 38 34.9
Mango Farm 36.0 35.6 in 2014 34 33.9
Pirlangimpi Airport 33.6 33.4 in 2010 32 32.0
Wollogorang 38.3 37.5 in 1992 29 34.4
Douglas River 35.7 35.6 in 2002 23 33.7
Borroloola Airport 39.9 35.1 in 1997 20 33.4

Highest March mean daily maximum temperature for at least 20 years
Observed
(°C)
Most recent
higher
Years since
higher
Average for
March
Daly Waters Airstrip 37.3 38.0 in 1961* 24 34.6
Victoria River Downs 37.9 38.0 in 1992 23 35.1
Gove Airport 32.2 32.5 in 1993 22 31.2

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




Record highest March daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
March
Jervois 29.5 on the 4th 29.4 on the 14th in 2009 47 19.3



Record lowest March temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
March
Black Point 21.3 on the 22nd 21.4 on the 14th in 2012 23 25.5



Record highest March mean daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
March
Darwin Airport 25.5 25.4 in 2005 73 24.5
Channel Point 26.1 25.3 in 2013 20 24.5

Highest March mean daily minimum temperature for at least 20 years
Observed
(°C)
Most recent
higher
Years since
higher
Average for
March
Centre Island 27.6 27.8 in 1990 25 26.3



Record highest March mean temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
March
Centre Island 31.8 31.4 in 1990 40 29.6
Pirlangimpi Airport 29.1 28.9 in 2010 32 28.0
Douglas River 29.5 29.3 in 2010 23 28.5
Lajamanu Airport 30.3 29.8 in 2005 22 28.3
Borroloola Airport 31.4 29.2 in 2013 20 28.4
Channel Point 29.3 29.2 in 2010 20 28.2

Highest March mean temperature for at least 20 years
Observed
(°C)
Most recent
higher
Years since
higher
Average for
March
Tindal RAAF 29.4 30.3 in 1988* 24 28.6
Victoria River Downs 30.8 31.5 in 1992 23 29.1

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




Summary statistics for March 2015
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean for
March
2015
Diff
from
average
Highest for
March
2015
Mean for
March
2015
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
March
2015
Total for
March
2015
Average
for
March
Rank of
March
2015
Fraction of
March
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Airport 33.9 +1.0 36.5 13th 24.1 +0.7 21.4 28th 123.0 244.7 average 50%
Black Point 31.6 +0.2 32.7 31st 25.9 +0.4 21.3 22nd 213.8 243.6 average 88%
Central Arnhem Plateau 33.6 +1.8 37.8 21st 23.3 +0.5 20.6 25th 7.8 248.8 v low 3%
Channel Point 32.7 +0.9 34.2 31st 26.1 +1.6 23.5 27th 132.2 344.2 v low 38%
Charles Point 32.1   33.3 21st 25.8   22.6 27th 157.6
Darwin Airport 32.7 +0.8 34.7 12th 25.5 +1.0 22.4 13th 228.8 317.8 average 72%
Delamere Weapons Range 36.1 +1.9 39.8 21st 23.6 +0.4 21.2 9th 116.8 162.9 average 72%
Douglas River 35.7 +2.0 38.6 14th 23.3 +0.2 20.8 30th 80.4 229.3 v low 35%
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 32.5 +0.8 33.5 31st 26.4 +1.3 22.6 22nd 162.2 314.5 v low 52%
Jabiru Airport 34.8 +1.2 37.8 13th 24.9 +0.5 22.5 24th 194.8 317.2 low 61%
Katherine Country Club 36.1   39.5 14th 23.5   20.2 9th 134.0
Mango Farm 36.0 +2.1 38.9 14th 23.7 +0.1 20.7 24th 94.6 215.4 low 44%
McCluer Island 31.2 +0.3 32.8 11th 26.6 +0.7 22.9 23rd 73.2 224.0 low 33%
Middle Point 34.8 +1.3 38.4 21st 24.2 +0.4 22.1 30th 199.8 253.6 average 79%
Murganella Airstrip 32.8   35.4 21st 23.8   21.6 23rd 124.8
Noonamah Airstrip 34.0   37.0 21st 24.9   22.9 5th 225.8
Oenpelli Airport 33.7   35.9 21st 24.8   20.7 11th 128.2
Pirlangimpi Airport 33.6 +1.6 35.6 31st 24.7 +0.6 22.5 22nd 253.2 356.7 low 71%
Point Fawcett 32.3 +0.6 33.5 20th 25.4 +0.5 21.9 23rd
Point Stuart 32.4   34.4 21st 24.9   22.3 25th 123.0 218.3 low 56%
Port Keats Airport 34.8 +1.5 38.3 14th 25.0 +1.0 22.5 11th 60.4 195.9 low 31%
Tindal RAAF 35.8 +1.7 38.8 21st 23.0 0.0 19.7 9th 128.6 167.6 average 77%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Cape Wessel 32.4   34.7 21st 26.4   21.9 22nd 171.0 207.3 average 82%
Gove Airport 32.2 +1.0 35.0 12th 24.2 +0.3 22.0 29th 492.8 282.8 v high 174%
Groote Eylandt Airport 34.2 +1.9 37.6 17th 23.9 +0.2 20.8 12th 88.4 317.9 v low 28%
Maningrida Airport 32.7 +0.8 38.5 12th 24.4 -0.1 20.5 24th 309.8 325.0 average 95%
Milingimbi Airport 33.2 +1.1 38.7 12th 25.3 +0.6 22.5 23rd 363.4 281.2 high 129%
Warruwi Airport 32.0 +0.6 34.7 13th 25.4 +0.2 21.2 14th 208.0 237.4 average 88%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola Airport 39.9 +6.5 43.3 12th 22.8 -0.5 19.1 9th 11.2 165.8 lowest 7%
Bulman 35.6 +1.5 39.5 21st 23.0 -0.2 17.6 9th 77.4 255.4 low 30%
Centre Island 35.9 +3.1 38.8 17th 27.6 +1.3 24.1 7th 11.4 258.9 v low 4%
Daly Waters Airstrip 37.3 +2.7 41.0 21st 20.8 -1.7 15.2 8th 35.2 113.9 average 31%
McArthur River Mine Airport 38.6 +3.7 41.9 17th 23.9 +0.5 19.0 8th 72.2 146.5 low 49%
Ngukurr Airport 37.6   41.2 17th 23.8   18.9 9th 38.2
Wollogorang 38.3 +3.9 42.5 20th     19.0 8th 33.3 158.9 low 21%
Victoria (district 14F)
Lajamanu Airport 37.9 +3.3 41.2 20th 22.7 +0.7 18.9 8th 10.8 82.0 average 13%
Victoria River Downs 37.9 +2.8 40.6 21st 23.6 +0.4 19.4 13th 17.8 109.0 low 16%
Wave Hill     39.0 23rd 23.1 +1.0 19.0 8th 3.9 119.7 low 3%
Barkly (district 15A)
Brunette Downs 38.2 +3.1 41.5 20th 23.4 +1.1 17.7 16th 59.6 56.3 average 106%
Elliott 36.9 +1.3 40.6 20th 22.6 +0.4 17.2 8th 34.6 85.0 low 41%
Tennant Creek Airport 36.8 +2.5 40.6 20th 24.6 +1.4 20.7 16th 6.0 55.0 low 11%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 34.5 +1.9 42.5 19th 17.7 +0.2 11.7 15th 0 31.4 lowest 0%
Arltunga 33.6 +1.9 41.6 19th 19.0 +0.5 9.5 16th 0 39.0 lowest 0%
Curtin Springs 35.6 +1.9 43.4 19th 20.8 +2.3 15.0 8th 1.0 28.3 average 4%
Jervois 36.3 +1.7 44.0 19th 21.2 +1.9 14.3 16th 0 31.6 lowest 0%
Kulgera 33.5 +1.3 41.8 19th 18.6 +0.5 12.0 27th 0 30.0 lowest 0%
Rabbit Flat 38.8 +2.8 43.3 18th 21.4 -0.2 16.1 30th 1.2 71.5 low 2%
Territory Grape Farm 36.7 +2.5 42.1 18th 19.2 -0.4 15.0 16th 16.8 21.0 average 80%
Walungurru Airport 38.5 +2.5 43.3 18th 25.1 +1.1 21.5 30th 9.8 50.1 average 20%
Watarrka 36.5 +2.1 42.6 20th 22.2 +1.6 16.7 29th 5.0 33.2 average 15%
Yulara Airport 35.8 +1.6 42.8 19th 21.0 +1.9 14.4 31st 0.2 35.3 low 1%

Notes

A Monthly Climate Summary is prepared to list 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. Later information, including data that has had greater opportunity for quality control, will be presented in the Monthly Weather Review, usually published in the fourth week of the month.

A Climate Summary is generally published on the first working day of each month.

This statement has been prepared based on information available at 10 am on Wednesday 1 April 2015. 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.

The ACORN-SAT dataset is used for temperature area averages.

Further information

Media
(03) 9669 4057
Enquiries