Northern Territory in October to April 2018-19: Driest wet season since 1992. Hottest wet season on record

Apart from the far northeast and some parts of the Territory's south, rainfall for the 2018-19 wet season was generally well below average. It was the warmest on record for the Northern Territory for maximum, minimum and mean temperatures for the October 2018 to April 2019 period, with daytime temperatures especially high.

Late and weak monsoon activity led to dry conditions

  • Throughout the 2018-19 wet season, no particularly strong or extended monsoon bursts affected the Northern Territory
  • A late monsoon onset date at Darwin of 23 January (the equal third-latest since reliable records commenced in 1957) led to a very dry start to the wet season, despite a relatively wet November
  • The monsoon burst during January was relatively weak, as was the following monsoon burst during March. Some significant rainfall occurred with the next monsoon burst in early April, but nowhere near enough to make up for the substantial seasonal rainfall deficiency that was prevalent by then
  • The Barkly District, as well as much of the central NT, were amongst the driest regions with record low rainfall totals in parts
  • Territory-wide, the rainfall total was 34% below the long-term wet season average
  • Many sites had either their lowest total October to April rainfall on record or lowest total for at last 25 years
  • There were some isolated heavy rainfall events which gave some sites their highest October to April daily rainfall on record

Record-breaking heat

Darwin Airport

  • Total rainfall for Darwin Airport was 1174.6 mm, which is 70% of the long-term average of 1677.8 mm. This was Darwin Airport's seventh-lowest wet season total since records commenced in 1941. The highest daily rainfall occurred on 15 November 2018 when 73.2 mm was recorded
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Darwin Airport was 33.5 °C, which is 1.0 °C above the long-term average of 32.5 °C. The warmest day was 37.3 °C on 1 Nov, and the coolest day was on 8 Apr when the temperature reached 28.4 °C
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Darwin Airport was 25.5 °C, which is 0.7 °C above the long-term average of 24.8 °C. The coldest morning was 21.6 °C on 6 Jan, and the warmest morning was on 12 Dec when the minimum temperature was 30.0 °C

Alice Springs Airport

  • Total rainfall for Alice Springs Airport was 97.4 mm, which is 45% of the long-term average of 217.8 mm. The highest daily rainfall occurred on 21 November 2018 when 33.4 mm was recorded.
  • The mean daily maximum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 36.0 °C, which is 2.7 °C above the long-term average of 33.3 °C, and the highest on record. The warmest day was 45.6 °C, on both 29 December 2018 and 3 January 2019, a record for any month, and the coolest day was on the 7 November 2018 when the temperature reached 17.6 °C
  • The mean daily minimum temperature for Alice Springs Airport was 19.4 °C, which is 1.5 °C above the long-term average of 17.9 °C. The coldest morning was 7.8 °C on 13 April 2019, and the warmest morning was on 17 January 2019 when the minimum temperature was 30.4 °C

Tropical cyclone activity

  • Three tropical cyclones affected the Northern Territory region during 2018-19, near the long-term average of between two and three cyclones per season for the region
  • Tropical cyclone Owen made landall on the southern Gulf of Carpentaria coast, northwest of Port McArthur, on 13 December as a category 3 system
  • The strongest tropical cyclone to affect the NT region was Trevor which made landall on the southern Gulf coast, between Port McArthur and the Queensland border, on 23 March as a category 4 storm
  • Tropical cyclone Wallace formed just inside the NT region on 6 April, before tracking further west into Western Australia's tropical cyclone region of responsibility. Wallace had no direct impact on the NT during its life cycle.
  • Tropical cyclone reports can be found at Severe Weather Events

Further information

Media
(03) 9669 4057
Enquiries

Extremes in October to April 2018-19
Hottest day 47.4 °C at Walungurru Airport on 3 Jan 2019
Warmest days on average 40.4 °C at Rabbit Flat
Coolest days on average 31.3 °C at McCluer Island
Coldest day 17.6 °C at Alice Springs Airport on 7 Nov 2018
Coldest night 4.9 °C at Arltunga on 13 Apr 2019
Coolest nights on average 19.4 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Warmest nights on average 27.0 °C at Centre Island
Warmest night 34.3 °C at Walungurru Airport on 3 Jan 2019
Warmest on average overall 32.6 °C at Lajamanu Airport
Coolest on average overall 27.7 °C at Alice Springs Airport
Wettest overall 1537.8 mm at Croker Island Airport
Wettest day 172.0 mm at Marqua on 25 Mar 2019
Strongest wind gust 139 km/h at Centre Island on 23 Mar 2019

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 October to April daily rainfall
New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Cooinda Airstrip 158.0 on 11 Feb 2019 152.6 on 10 Jan 2001 29
Marqua 172.0 on 25 Mar 2019 165.0 on 1 Mar 2010 20



Record lowest October to April total rainfall
New record
(mm)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
October to April
Elliott 157.6 237.6 in 1985 51 575.0
Tennant Creek Airport 79.2 121.6 in 2007 50 437.4
Camfield 122.1 330.0 in 1972 43 579.7
Darwin River Dam 905.1 960.9 in 2004 43 1541.2
Tanumbirini 308.5 316.2 in 1987 34 728.5
Territory Grape Farm 26.0 65.2 in 2007 27 237.4
Scott Creek 546.4 624.9 in 1987 23 883.5

Lowest October to April total rainfall for at least 20 years
Observed
(mm)
Most recent
lower
Average for
October to April
Victoria River Downs 262.2 256.0 in 1935* 642.5
Brunette Downs 124.4 123.8 in 1984 397.4
Daly Waters Airstrip 395.2 350.0 in 1960* 664.0
Waterloo 426.8 410.2 in 1984* 656.9
Larrimah 475.7 393.9 in 1989* 844.6
Darwin Botanic Gardens 1118.6 985.4 in 1989* 1700.3
Wave Hill 276.8 254.1 in 1991* 655.8
Channel Point 1074.5 1059.5 in 1991* 1770.4
Humpty Doo Collard Road 1289.4 1190.8 in 1991* 1804.9
McMinns Lagoon 1342.2 1191.4 in 1991* 1835.4
Lajamanu Airport 233.6 190.3 in 1991* 483.0
Legune 608.7 550.0 in 1989* 1100.3
Walhallow 145.0 104.9 in 1991* 545.3

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




Record highest October to April temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
October to April
Alice Springs Airport 45.6 on 3 Jan 2019 45.2 on 3 Jan 1960 78 33.3
Curtin Springs 46.9 on 30 Dec 2018 46.4 on 11 Jan 2013 55 34.3
Gove Airport 38.7 on 4 Dec 2018 38.0 on 10 Nov 2015 41 32.0
Kulgera 47.0 on 3 Jan 2019 45.5 on 9 Feb 1986 39 33.1
Yulara Airport 46.8 on 3 Jan 2019 46.4 on 11 Jan 2013 33 34.8
Lajamanu Airport 46.2 on 3 Jan 2019 45.4 on 8 Dec 2009 28 36.6
Watarrka 46.0 on 30 Dec 2018 45.3 on 12 Jan 2013 28 35.1
Borroloola Airport 44.6 on 5 Dec 2018 44.2 on 6 Nov 2016 26 35.2
Rabbit Flat 47.1 on 19 Dec 2018 46.7 on 25 Jan 2013 23 37.3
Bradshaw 44.4 on 6 Dec 2018 44.0 on 5 Dec 2009 21 36.6
Groote Eylandt Airport 40.7 on 6 Dec 2018 39.9 on 10 Nov 2015 20 33.5



Record highest October to April mean daily maximum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
October to April
Alice Springs Airport 36.0 35.6 in 2012 76 33.3
Curtin Springs 36.9 36.4 in 2004 51 34.3
Victoria River Downs 39.1 38.1 in 1972 50 36.5
Tennant Creek Airport 38.4 37.1 in 1991 49 35.3
Daly Waters Airstrip 38.5 37.9 in 1951 47 36.0
Jervois 37.1 36.9 in 2017 46 35.3
Elliott 39.4 39.2 in 2004 36 37.1
McArthur River Mine Airport 38.4 37.9 in 1989 32 36.6
Yulara Airport 37.2 36.5 in 2015 30 34.8
Borroloola Airport 37.5 36.5 in 2015 23 35.2
Channel Point 32.8 32.7 in 2015 23 32.1
Lajamanu Airport 40.3 39.0 in 2004 23 36.6
Territory Grape Farm 37.6 36.5 in 2015 22 34.8
Rabbit Flat 40.4 39.8 in 2004 21 37.3



Record highest October to April daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
October to April
Darwin Airport 30.0 on 12 Dec 2018 29.7 on 17 Dec 2014 79 24.8
Pirlangimpi Airport 29.3 on 12 Dec 2018 29.0 on 3 Dec 2007 39 24.0
Lajamanu Airport 33.2 on 30 Jan 2019 31.8 on 22 Nov 2009 28 22.3
Rabbit Flat 33.5 on 13 Dec 2018 32.2 on 9 Dec 2009 23 21.4
McCluer Island 30.0 on 7 Dec 2018 = 30.0 on 28 Dec 2002 21 26.6
Ngayawili 30.5 on 7 Dec 2018 30.3 on 4 Mar 2016 20 24.7



Record highest October to April mean daily minimum temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
October to April
Tennant Creek Airport 25.4 24.6 in 1991 49 23.4
Victoria River Downs 25.2 24.6 in 1988 49 23.5
Centre Island 27.0 26.9 in 1987 43 26.3
Elliott 24.6 23.9 in 1990 35 22.7
McArthur River Mine Airport 24.8 24.7 in 2005 32 23.6
Channel Point 25.4 25.2 in 2009 23 24.6
Lajamanu Airport 24.8 23.3 in 2015 23 22.3
Territory Grape Farm 20.5 20.3 in 2005 22 19.1
Rabbit Flat 23.6 23.1 in 2005 21 21.4

Highest October to April mean daily minimum temperature for at least 20 years
Observed
(°C)
Most recent
higher
Average for
October to April
Darwin Airport 25.5 25.6 in 1989 24.8
Gove Airport 24.7 24.8 in 1998 23.8



Record highest October to April mean temperature
New record
(°C)
Old
record
Years of
record
Average for
October to April
Alice Springs Airport 27.7 27.6 in 2005 76 25.6
Darwin Airport 29.5 = 29.5 in 2015 76 28.6
Tennant Creek Airport 31.9 30.9 in 1991 49 29.3
Victoria River Downs 32.1 31.1 in 1972 48 30.0
Daly Waters Airstrip 30.9 = 30.9 in 1953 47 29.3
Jervois 29.1 = 29.1 in 2017 45 27.4
Centre Island 30.8 = 30.8 in 2015 43 29.9
Elliott 32.0 31.1 in 1991 35 29.9
McArthur River Mine Airport 31.6 31.2 in 1989 32 30.1
Yulara Airport 28.8 28.7 in 2015 30 26.9
Tindal RAAF 30.3 = 30.3 in 2015 29 29.5
Borroloola Airport 30.8 30.1 in 2015 23 29.3
Channel Point 29.1 28.9 in 2009 23 28.4
Lajamanu Airport 32.6 31.0 in 2015 23 29.4
Territory Grape Farm 29.0 28.3 in 2012 22 27.0
Rabbit Flat 32.0 30.8 in 2004 21 29.3



Summary statistics for October to April 2018-19
Maximum temperatures
(°C)
Minimum temperatures
(°C)
Rainfall
(millimetres)
Mean for
October
to April
2018-19
Diff
from
average
Highest for
October
to April
2018-19
Mean for
October
to April
2018-19
Diff
from
average
Lowest for
October
to April
2018-19
Total for
October
to April
2018-19
Average
for
October
to April
Rank of
October
to April
2018-19
Fraction of
October
to April
average
Darwin-Daly (district 14GA)
Batchelor Airport     39.6 12 Oct 2018 23.9 +0.5 17.8 27 Apr 2019 918.4 1478.2 low 62%
Central Arnhem Plateau 33.9 +0.6 38.8 30 Oct 2018 23.0 +0.1 18.5 1 Oct 2018 885.6 1093.8 low 81%
Channel Point 32.8 +0.7 35.0 2 Apr 2019 25.4 +0.8 20.0 27 Apr 2019 1074.5 1770.4 v low 61%
Charles Point 32.3   35.3 24 Apr 2019 26.2   21.1 6 Jan 2019 1217.0
Croker Island Airport 32.3   35.5 15 Nov 2018 25.7   22.2 8 Dec 2018 1537.8
Darwin Airport 33.5 +1.0 37.3 1 Nov 2018 25.5 +0.7 21.6 6 Jan 2019 1174.6 1677.8 v low 70%
Delamere Weapons Range 37.5 +2.0 42.4 11 Dec 2018 24.7 +1.1 18.8 1 Oct 2018 639.2 868.9 low 74%
Douglas River Research Farm 36.0 +0.9 41.7 2 Nov 2018 23.5 +0.5 14.8 1 Oct 2018
Dum In Mirrie Airstrip 33.2 +0.9 37.0 1 Nov 2018 25.9 +0.4 20.8 10 Mar 2019 1448.0 1716.5 low 84%
Jabiru Airport 36.0 +1.0 41.4 9 Nov 2018 25.0 +0.6 20.3 11 Jan 2019 1173.2 1503.2 low 78%
McCluer Island 31.3 0.0 34.9 10 Dec 2018 26.8 +0.2 21.9 7 Mar 2019 972.4 1091.5 average 89%
Middle Point 35.6 +0.8 39.6 24 Oct 2018 23.5 0.0 16.3 1 Oct 2018 950.0 1328.7 low 71%
Mount Bundey North (Defence) 35.5   40.1 10 Nov 2018 24.3   20.4 1 Oct 2018 1151.0
Mount Bundey South (Defence) 36.0   40.3 9 Nov 2018 24.2   17.4 27 Apr 2019 1239.8
Murganella Airstrip 33.8   38.8 6 Dec 2018 23.6   17.1 8 Oct 2018 1253.8
Noonamah Airstrip 34.8   39.2 11 Oct 2018 24.7   19.3 27 Apr 2019 802.0
Point Fawcett 33.1 +0.8 36.1 29 Oct 2018 25.6 +0.8 19.4 9 Oct 2018 925.0 1492.8 low 62%
Point Stuart 34.0   37.2 23 Oct 2018 24.9   20.3 8 Oct 2018 1341.4 1331.8 average 101%
Port Keats Airport 34.0 +0.4 37.5 6 Dec 2018 25.1 +0.6 19.9 1 Apr 2019 930.0 1257.0 average 74%
Tindal RAAF 36.7 +1.4 41.6 30 Oct 2018 23.9 +0.2 14.6 1 Oct 2018 802.0 1041.5 low 77%
Arnhem (district 14BC)
Cape Wessel 33.5   37.5 5 Dec 2018 26.2   22.1 9 Feb 2019 1046.8 1068.1 average 98%
Gove Airport 33.0 +1.0 38.7 4 Dec 2018 24.7 +0.9 17.3 7 Oct 2018 1339.2 1297.8 average 103%
Groote Eylandt Airport 34.3 +0.8 40.7 6 Dec 2018 24.5 +0.9 16.5 7 Oct 2018 1196.2 1254.4 average 95%
Milingimbi Airport 34.0 +1.0 39.2 10 Dec 2018 25.5 +0.6 20.3 3 Oct 2018 869.4 1108.4 average 78%
Roper-Mcarthur (district 14DE)
Borroloola Airport 37.5 +2.3 44.6 5 Dec 2018 24.0 +0.6 15.7 1 Oct 2018 553.6 914.1 low 61%
Bulman 36.9 +1.0 41.8 7 Dec 2018 24.0 +0.7 18.1 26 Apr 2019 887.0 1077.3 average 82%
Centre Island 34.6 +1.1 40.2 6 Dec 2018 27.0 +0.7 22.4 1 Oct 2018 664.8 1044.8 low 64%
Daly Waters Airstrip 38.5 +2.5 43.4 11 Jan 2019 23.3 +0.7 12.9 1 Oct 2018 395.2 664.0 low 60%
McArthur River Mine Airport 38.4 +1.8 44.3 5 Dec 2018 24.8 +1.2 16.1 1 Oct 2018 569.8 760.4 low 75%
Ngukurr Airport 38.1   43.1 10 Dec 2018 25.2   17.7 1 Oct 2018 524.2
Victoria (district 14F)
Bradshaw 38.3 +1.7 44.4 6 Dec 2018 25.7 +1.1 20.2 26 Apr 2019 624.2 922.2 low 68%
Lajamanu Airport 40.3 +3.7 46.2 3 Jan 2019 24.8 +2.5 15.6 2 Apr 2019 233.6 483.0 v low 48%
Victoria River Downs 39.1 +2.6 44.7 11 Dec 2018 25.2 +1.7 18.1 1 Oct 2018 262.2 642.5 v low 41%
Barkly (district 15A)
Elliott 39.4 +2.3 45.4 11 Jan 2019 24.6 +1.9 17.0 12 Oct 2018 157.6 575.0 lowest 27%
Tennant Creek Airport 38.4 +3.1 45.0 11 Jan 2019 25.4 +2.0 16.6 1 Apr 2019 79.2 437.4 lowest 18%
Alice Springs (district 15B)
Alice Springs Airport 36.0 +2.7 45.6 3 Jan 2019 19.4 +1.5 7.8 13 Apr 2019 97.4 216.2 low 45%
Curtin Springs 36.9 +2.6 46.9 30 Dec 2018     10.4 2 Apr 2019 96.6 171.8 low 56%
Jervois 37.1 +1.8 46.5 19 Dec 2018 21.0 +1.6 10.5 12 Apr 2019 232.0 233.7 average 99%
Rabbit Flat 40.4 +3.1 47.1 19 Dec 2018 23.6 +2.2 13.1 3 Apr 2019 205.8 430.8 v low 48%
Territory Grape Farm 37.6 +2.8 45.5 19 Dec 2018 20.5 +1.4 9.3 2 Apr 2019 26.0 237.4 lowest 11%
Walungurru Airport 39.2 +2.1 47.4 3 Jan 2019 25.4 +1.8 16.5 23 Apr 2019 94.0 244.8 low 38%
Yulara Airport 37.2 +2.4 46.8 3 Jan 2019 20.4 +1.4 8.4 23 Apr 2019 118.0 214.6 low 55%

Notes

The Seasonal 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 May 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

Media
(03) 9669 4057
Enquiries