Welcome to our sixth of many wet season wrap ups 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 stay in the Southern Gulf Country and specifically the township of Normanton in Queensland (pop approx 1200).
Normanton lies just inland of the South-East Gulf coast along a flood plain and next to the Norman River. The town boasts a Tropical Savannah type climate averaging 869mm of which about 90% falls during the Wet Season. The area is noted for its prawn harvests and tourism is becoming more of a lucrative industry in recent years especially to the nearby much smaller coastal town of Karumba. The region surrounding the townships is characterized by open flood plans and as you head inland those flood plains then make way to large cattle properties.
WET SEASON 2018/19 RAINFALL Unlike nearby Burketown (check out last night's wrap up) Normanton's build up period was near average with two storms recorded in October and just one in November. The lack of storm activity in this region was concerning early in the season and gave way to the driest DDecember recorded in the met station's 15 yr history. Even Severe Tropical Cyclone Owen which passed within about 250kms of the town couldn't open the flood gates with just a paltry 5mm recorded as Owen hit the coast to the north near Kowanyama on December 15th.
January began in the same fashion as the previous three months, hot and dry... but... a morning thunderstorm on the 4th dumped a quickfire 46mm of rain in just 40 minutes. This was followed about a week later with a Saturday night light show on the 12th that was no doubt spectacular over a few night time bevvies. What was also spectacular was the rainfall it produced with 90mm being recorded from a couple of storms that day/night. The rest of the month saw some boring weather establish itself over the area until the last few days of January where a deep LOW was beginning to build south-west of Normanton. So on the 28th January, the Wet had finally arrived.
The deep LOW was an offshoot of the crazy weather on the north-east coast, and with Normanton sitting to the LOW's north-east it was the recipient of a deep north-east to northerly air stream along with squally showers and storms that came in regular short sharp bursts. The heaviest rain day was on Feb 1 with 108mm recorded closely followed by Feb 2 with a further 70mm recorded. All up the week between the 29th Jan and the 4th Feb resulted in about half of Normanton's entire wet season rainfall. The other important thing we saw during this time was that temperatures which had been excruciating for the wet season so far had dropped for 13 days to below average giving residents at least a couple weeks of respite.
There was very little weather action after that early February period, even Cyclone Trevor created minimum weather interest in Normanton as he powered too far to the west and north of the area eventually making landfall in the Southern Gulf near the QLD/NT border.
Thus ended a pretty poor season and without that week of rain in late Jan/early Feb, it could have been one of the poorest season's ever recorded. While Normanton didn't recieve much rainfall, the areas south of Normanton that feed the Norman River received a massive deluge during that early Feb period and that will keep the town full of water for some time despite their poor wet season.
TROPICAL CYCLONE IMPACTS
A couple of Tropical Cyclones were present in the Southern GOC during the season. The most notable ones being Owen (December) and Trevor (March). Both of these cyclones had very little direct impact on Normanton. A LOW pressure system formed south-west of the town and this did have a significant impact on the town's rainfall in early February.
The searing heat of the first half of the wet season was probably the most interesting temperature feature of the town. November and December both saw monthly minimum temperature reading records broken and December saw the maximum average monthly temperature record shatter. Later in the wet season we saw temperatures return somewhat closer to normal. In terms of daily extremes, the most notable maximums occurred on December 4 and 5 with 43.9 and 43.4 degrees recorded respectively. Those temps beat the previous daily record at this station by about a degree. The most uncomfortable night of the wet season would have no doubt occurred on the 22nd December where the minimum only got down to0 30.2 degrees but was coupled with a dew point of almost 27 degrees, making it feel like about 35 degrees at the coolest part of the night with hardly a breath of wind to disrupt the stifling heat and humidity.
Where do we go next? Tune in tomorrow night to find out.
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