Weather News

A hot and cold heart

Jess Miskelly, Sunday September 19, 2021 - 14:22 EST

Alice Springs sits at the centre. Geographically, the town is roughly 1500 km equidistant from both Darwin and Adelaide. Culturally, it demarcates 'up north' from 'down south'. And meteorologically, at 23 degrees latitude, it separates the tropics from the mid-latitudes, marking the general limit for the reach of southern cold-fronts.

One such cold front is currently creeping towards the outback town. The front stretches across the Great Australian Bight from Western Australia to Tasmania, and will edge north and east over the coming 48 hours. Cold southeasterly winds will sweep through Alice Springs on Monday night, bringing a Tuesday maximum temperature of only 20 degrees, around 10 degrees colder than the previous day. This will be the 5th such sub-21 degree day so far this September, one of only two Septembers in the last decade to have such a high number of cool days (the last time was in 2016).

Yet, last Thursday, Alice Springs had its warmest September day since 2017, reaching 37.1 degrees. The city may not have the day-to-day variation of its southern capital counterparts, like Adelaide, but it's certainly more variable than tropical Darwin further north. Especially during these shoulder season months. 

Image: Combination of satellite imagery and near surface model temperatures (coloured shading), showing Alice Springs near the centre and a cold front over the Bight just before 2pm EST Sunday 19th September, 2021.

After another cool day on Wednesday, it looks to quickly re-warm, and further cool days look unlikely for the rest of the month.

It's too early to know exactly what October and November will bring, but with La Niña conditions looking increasingly likely, an early tropical wet season onset is also likely. This increases the chance for a warmer than average and increasingly humid latter half of spring for Alice Springs.  

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