Welcome to our tenth wet season wrap up for Northern Australia where we take a look at Northern Australian towns/cities and go through their previous wet season. In October, we continue our features by speculating at what the early modelling might be showing for the upcoming wet season for these locations so become a subscriber, show your support and get access to this exclusive information. Today we remain in North-West WA and specifically the town of Exmouth (pop approx 2200).
Tourism is the lifeblood of this community and the greater Ningaloo region and while the population is officially about 2200, during the peak of the tourist season, it can swell to more than double that number. The town has a semi arid and hot climate and when we talk 'wet season' we use the term loosely. In fact the Wet Season for this part of Australia is January to July with the dry season between August and December. The rainfall is highly variable and between January and April is almost totally dependent on Tropical Cyclones - no Tropical Cyclones - no rain. Between May and July North-West cloud bands ahead of strong cold fronts bring the region some much needed rainfall and the rainfall from these is far less variable. Around August these NW cloud bands decrease in frequency and by Spring it's unusual to see cold fronts extend their tentacles that far to the north. Between October and December there are isolated to scattered storms over the inland Gascoyne and occasionally there is enough shallow moisture to result in some sea breeze shower activity but these do not generally move over the town due to poor middle and upper level steering winds. Needless to say In 2018/19 without a solid Tropical Cyclone impacting the NW Cape region, Exmouth suffered through a hot and dry 'wet season'
Please note that data below is from the Meteorological Station at Learmonth which is about a 36km drive away to the south but has a very similar climate to the town (albeit the town is a little cooler during the day than the airport and a little warmer at night)
WET SEASON 2018/19 RAINFALL There were no real highlights or massive rain days of the 2018/19 season. In fact for Exmouth the 2018/19 wet season can be summed up in just 4 solid rain days in total. The town went through a 116 day dry spell between November and the first wet season rains of March 26th. That's insane to think about from someone that lives on the East Coast like myself. And it was Tropical Cyclone Veronica or rather its remnants that provided the only action of the season for the town.
1 - The first solid rain day was March 26th as TC Veronica slowly meandered its way down the NW coast while weakening as it got sheared away, it still packed a reasonable punch dumping 27mm of much needed rain along with winds up to 69km/hr. Most of the rain and wind occurred on Tuesday night so it may have kept some residents up, but the Ex Cyclone was in no danger of re intensifying near the town. CHECK OUT EX VERONICA AS SHE APPROACHED EXMOUTH HERE
2 - April 14th a surface trough system interacted with some colder upper level air to produce a solid rain day of 41mm - check that out here
3 - 2 cold fronts on June 3rd and June 16th helped pour about 60mm on the town along with some gusty northerly winds
As we know the rainfall here is highly variable with very few years actually being 'average' 2018/19 was a season that was well below average.
TROPICAL CYCLONE IMPACTS
Tropical Cyclone Veronica was the only highlight for this area and by the time it impacted this region of the NW coast it had weakened back to a Tropical LOW. Nevertheless the remnants provided the town with a pretty wild Tuesday night and packed wind gusts to 69km/hr and gave the town a drink of about 20mm. The wind effects began Tuesday afternoon and continued through to mid afternoon Wednesday 27th March but the rainfall was all over in a 4 hr period between 6:30PM and 10:30PM local time on the Tuesday 26th March
The town lies well north of the Meteorological station and the sea breeze effects over Exmouth are more prominent than those over the official Met station. Therefore while the Met station showed days of extreme heat the town itself was likely a few degrees cooler on those extreme days. So please understand the limitations of this table below. It was a season of quite extreme diurnal temperature variations with a cool dry airstream overnight and hot dry airstream during the day meant that the area saw daily variations between max and mins around 2-3 degrees more than normal on average.
I guess the temperature highlights lie around mid season in April and May. Around the middle part of April, a cold south-westerly wind change swept through Learmonth and allowed night time temps to plummet to set new daily record minimum temps overnight of 12.7 and 11.2 degrees respectively on the 21st and 22nd. Meanwhile in direct opposition, not a single North-West cloud band throughout the month of May and no strong cool southerly changes meant that the town recorded its warmest May overall in 42 years of record keeping.
We go back up the NW coast tomorrow night to one of the big gun Port towns and I have just one word for their wet season - Veronica - it was the costliest natural disaster in Australia this past wet season, costing our economy more than even the NQ floods. Tune in tomorrow night to find out where we are going.
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