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Shivering in the Tropical North

Joel Pippard, Saturday May 23, 2020 - 12:22 EST

Almost all of Queensland and the Northern Territory, including Brisbane and Darwin, has had a bitterly cold day under a blanket of cloud on Friday.

Without the sunlight to warm the ground, Longreach in Qld shuddered through its coldest May day in 61 years, only reaching 14.5 degrees on Friday. This was also its second coldest May day in 124 years of records, only just beaten by 14.4 degrees in 1959. Charleville failed to warm above 13.2 degrees, its coldest May day in 51 years. A whole host of other Qld locations had their coldest May day in at least 20 years, including Gatton (15.8C), Mt Isa (17.5C), and Stanthorpe (8.7C).

The NT was not spared the cold, with Lajanmanu recording its coldest May day in 52 years (14.7C) and 39 years for McArthur River (21.3C). Tindal failed to rise above 20.9 degrees, making it its coldest May day in 35 years of records, and its coldest day of any month for 13 years.

Qld’s capital Brisbane was not exempt from the chill, recording its coldest May day in 40 years, only reaching 17.9C. Darwin only climbed to 25.0C, its coldest May day in 8 years and its coldest day of any month for 3 years.

A trough fed tropical moisture, leading to a blanket of jetstream cloud covering Qld and the NT. 

Image: Satellite and observed temperatures on Friday afternoon, masking much of the NT and Qld

The trough is crossing eastern Qld on Saturday, likely bringing another cold day to many locations, including normally very warm locations, such as Townsville (17C), and Rockhampton (13C), and up to 14 degrees below the May average.

Skies will clear on Sunday, leading to cool mornings but increasingly warmer days during the coming week.

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