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Top End fire ban as Alice Springs breaks dry spell record

Ben Domensino, Tuesday September 18, 2018 - 08:56 EST

Hot and dry weather is elevating fire danger ratings in the NT's western Top End today as Alice Springs sets a new dry spell record after months without rain.

Temperatures reaching the high thirties and dry southeasterly winds are likely to elevate fire danger ratings in the western Top End today. A fire weather warning has been issued for the Darwin and Adelaide River fire forecast areas, with a total fire ban also in place. This follows a fire ban in the region on Monday.

Hot days like this are typical over the Top End towards the end of northern Australia's dry season. The heat is caused by the sun climbing higher in our sky as the spring equinox approaches, combined with a lack of cloud cover over the region prior to impending wet season.

Dry weather is also common in the NT's vast Red Centre during September, although the current dry spell gripping Alice Springs is unprecedented.

Alice Springs Airport hasn't received any rain since the middle of April. Today is their 158th consecutive day without rain, beating the site's previous dry spell record of 157 days from 2012 and also a 147 day stretch during 1972.

Cooler than average water to the northwest of Australia in recent months has limited the amount of rainfall across central Australia. Cooler water in this region leads to less evaporation and consequently less moisture in the atmosphere across the continent. Many areas in the southern NT have received less than 40 per cent of their annual average rainfall during the first eight and a half months of 2018.

The dry-spell record is likely to be extended in Alice Springs, with little if any rain forecast during the coming days.

Alice Springs receives rain on around 43 days per year on average, with nearly three quarters of these (29) occurring between October and March.

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