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Bureau of Meteorology says the NT experienced its hottest November in 100 years

By Dijana Damjanovic, Tuesday December 1, 2020 - 16:19 EDT
ABC image
The Northern Territory experienced its hottest November in more than 100 years. - ABC

The Northern Territory has sweltered through record-breaking November heat, recording daytime temperatures roughly 3.25 degrees Celsius above average.

New figures from the Bureau of Metrology (BOM) show that in November 2020, most places in Central Australia saw their average jump by 3C during the day and in the Top End, daytime temperatures were between 2C and 3C above average.

It's the highest Northern Territory November average since records began in 1910.

In November 2019, the NT's monthly temperature was 2C above average ? the fifth hottest and the third-driest on record.

This November, the hot air was dragged into the Territory by two high-pressure systems, which stayed consistent for most of the month.

"Basically the cause of the warm conditions right around the Territory has been twofold, one in the north which has been a ridge on the Queensland coast which has extended into the Top End and suppressed the showers and storm activity," said BOM senior forecaster Sally Cutter.

"Down through Central Australia, there's been troughs continually forming over WA and that's turned the winds northerly, it's just dragged that really hot air down through Central Australia."

Apart from small clusters in east and coastal parts of Arnhem Land, the entire Northern Territory also experienced above-average overnight temperatures.

Rainfall was also below average throughout the NT, except for a few regions south of the Top End and around Alice Springs, with November 2020 the twelfth-lowest since records began.

"It sort of goes hand in hand, if you get those really hot temperatures, you need lack of cloud cover and therefore you get reduced amounts of rainfall," Ms Cutter said.

The lowest maximum temperature recorded at Darwin Airport was 31.9C on November 24 and its hottest was 37C on the 17th.

While in Alice Springs, the warmest daytime temperature came in at 43.7C on the 28th of November while its coolest was on the 16th when it was 28.9C.

Total Yard and Garden Care director Adam Thacker says the hotter weather makes it hard to retain staff.

"I think the biggest thing is going to be trying to hire locals, because people from down south don't really last in the heat up here, we go through at least 20 workers a year," Mr Thacker said.

"I'm just sitting here trying to get workers, they might last a couple of days or they might do two weeks and then they burn out. They just can't handle the heat."

Vulnerable populations, such as the NT's homeless, have also been affected.

"We've had a number in the past week, our patrols had to deal with an incident on Friday afternoon that took them more than an hour, because someone had reacted because of the heat stress," said Robert Cooper, chief executive of Larrakia Nation.

"When the power was off, they had an old bloke collapsed in front of his accommodation," he said.

The Northern Territory has Australia's highest rate of homelessness, with figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showing one in 26 people in the NT received help from support services in 2018-19 ? well above the national rate of one in 86 people.

Larrakia Nation has daily contact with people sleeping rough on the street.

"We're trying to prepare them not only for the heat but also the potential of COVID-19, and having them understand that coming into the air conditioning [in shopping centres] is not always appropriate," Mr Robert Cooper said.

Mr Cooper said Larrakia Nation was in desperate need for donated water, so his staff could distribute it among rough sleepers.

"We are currently trying to find a way to get more water out to our clients, particularly out where they're camping," he said.

"So if there's anyone out there from the supermarkets who want to help, please get in touch".


© ABC 2020

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