If you thought it has been dry lately, you are absolutely right! Currently as of Tuesday, November 20 it has been 95 consecutive days since any measurable rain has fallen into the official rain gauge located at the BOM office near Gove Airport.
This is the second longest stretch in history since the Bureau office opened in 1986 second only to the year 2014 when 104 days went by without any rain falling into the gauge. If you wanted to find the next closest stretch that was this dry, you’d have to go all the way back to the year 1986 when 83 days went by without rain.
November is traditionally one of the driest months of the year averaging only 3.6mm and is part of the “build up” to the wet season, and it is not uncommon for the whole month of November to go by without any rain being recorded. The years 2015 and 2016 were the most recent times when Gove had no rain recorded for November.
The reason for the likely drier than average start to the wet is because of two main factors. The first is because we are currently in what’s known as a positive phase of the “Indian Ocean Dipole” which comes about when the sea surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean off northwest WA and the Top End are cooler than normal for this time of year. Cooler than normal sea temperatures in this area usually results in less cloudiness and thus less rainfall during the early part of the wet season, however this IOD (Indian Ocean Dipole) should return back to neutral values by the end of the month.
The second reason, is a likely “El Nino” developing in the Pacific Ocean. During an El Nino, much warmer than normal waters develop off the west coast of South America, while cooler than normal waters exist off the north Queensland coast, usually resulting in a drier than normal wet season for most parts of QLD and parts of the NT.
So, in a nutshell if it doesn’t rain before Thursday next week, it will be the longest dry spell on record since the met office opened in 1986. Currently, the Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting only a very low chance of rain between today (November 20) through until Monday next week and a slight/medium chance of rain next Tuesday.