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NT Christmas forecast: No monsoon for the Top End while Alice Springs swelters

By Lucy Marks and Steven Schubert, Monday December 18, 2017 - 19:03 EDT
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Territorians are in for more hot and sticky conditions in the lead up to Christmas day . - ABC

Territorians are in for more hot and sticky conditions in the lead up to Christmas day with the weather bureau ruling out the chance of monsoonal rain to bring relief on the 25th.

Those in Darwin can expect a maximum of 33 degrees Celsius on Christmas day with the chance of a thunderstorm and similar conditions over the next seven days, the Bureau of Meteorology predicted.

"If we do see any afternoon storms, that will reduce the temperature a bit and it will feel less sticky," forecaster Laura Boekel said.

"And on Christmas day, a very similar pattern will continue, so we're expecting hot and humid conditions for the Top End."

The chance of a cool change brought by an afternoon thunderstorm on Christmas day would depend on the movement of winds, Ms Boekel explained.

"All the ingredients will be there for a thunderstorm, it's just a matter of those ingredients lining up and seeing them in the right place at the right time."

Alice Springs residents are set to have a sweltering Christmas day, with the mercury tipped to hit 41C.

The hottest Christmas Day on record in Alice Springs was 42.5C in 1972 and the coolest was 24.1C in 2006.

The late arrival of the monsoon is not unusual, the bureau explained, with a third of Christmas days remaining dry over the past 76 years.

"This year has been quite typical of what we can expect climatologically," Ms Boekel said.

"When we forecast for the monsoon, we have to look at a global pattern and currently the global pattern isn't doing what we need it to do in order to push tropical air down into Darwin to see those days of heavy rain and overcast conditions.

"Typically we see the monsoon around mid to later December, and although we have ruled it out before Christmas this year, we can't rule it out for the end of December or start of January," she said.

In terms of rainfall, the Top End was tracking about average for this wet season and slightly below average for December, but the BoM said that could change with the arrival of a few storms in the coming weeks.

'Get in the pool', declares long term resident

Alice Springs resident Des Nelson moved to the town 64 years ago and has only spent "a few Christmases down south".

When asked what he was expecting for Christmas Day he simply replied: "hot".

"If it gets hot you put up with it, you adapt to it," he said.

Mr Nelson has been taking temperature observations and keeping records for most of his time in Alice Springs.

"They'd be 100 [degrees Fahrenheit] to 104 (37.7 to 40 degrees Celsius), so there's been no dramatic change in general in the maximum temperature at Christmas here.

"There have been times when it's rained and that's kept the temperature down a bit, but average overall you've got to say somewhere round about 40 degrees.

"It's just to be expected so I don't worry about it too much."

Mr Nelson said the only advice he could give was to stay inside or get in a pool.

He said no matter how hot it got, nothing would be worse than Christmas 1961.

"I was living, if you could call it, in a tin shack at the time. There was no living inside that shack, I used to roll my swag out in the back of my ute.

"That was a ferociously hot summer, right from the very early morning, the first light of day, that was hot."


© ABC 2017

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