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Anthony Sharwood, 24 Jun 2022, 4:21 AM UTC

How low can Northern Territory temps go?

How low can Northern Territory temps go?

A top temperature of just 29°C is in the forecast for Darwin next Tuesday. If the forecast pans out as predicted, it would be just the third sub-30 degree day of the year in the NT capital.

So how often does that happen? And how cold can it get in Darwin itself, and elsewhere in the Northern Territory?

Image: Cold weather in the Top End? Man, what a croc! Source: Pixabay.

Let's deal with Darwin first

The interesting thing about Darwin's two sub-30 degree days so far this year is that one of them occurred on January 12.

That was because TC Tiffany made landfall over the eastern Top End, with ample cloud coverage over the whole region. The timing of the 27 mm of rain that Darwin received that day would have played a part too. Temps dropped to the low 20s around 6am, followed by persistent precipitation till around 1pm that slowed the mercury's rise until it peaked around 5 pm.

The other Darwin day this year that fell just short of 30°C was earlier this month, which is not unusual in June, because:

  • June and July are the two coldest months of the year in Darwin (due mostly to slightly shorter daylight hours providing less time for heating), with average mins of 20°C and 19.3°C respectively, and average maximums of 30.7°C in both months.

But Darwin can get a lot colder than the temps we've already mentioned.

Its coldest maximum temp on record was 21.1°C on July 14, 1968, while the coldest December-to-February max on record was 24.0°C on Dec 17, 1954.

For low max temps in the wet season in Darwin, you'd normally expect tropical low or tropical cyclone activity.

For low max temps in the dry season, you'd expect some unseasonable cloud to move over the city, as happened on May 22, 2020, when a broad area of jetstream cloud blotted out the sun, pinning temps down in the mid 20s.

So now you know how and when temperatures can occasionally stay low enough in the Top End for locals to require a light cardigan!

Image: How does minus 7.5 just down the road from here sound? Source: Pixabay.

For the record, the coldest temps ever recorded in the Northern Territory are:

Maximum

  • 5.9°C, Yulara Aero, July 11, 1997

Minimum

  • -7.5°C, Alice Springs Airport, July 17, 1976
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