A 'normal' wet means watching the Katherine River

THE return of a traditional “wet season” has been welcomed across the Top End after a succession of poor monsoon-fed seasons.

Katherine has already recorded 171mm for the new year against a total of 14.6mm at the same time last year.

With the return of the wet, there is always interest in the rise and fall of the Katherine River at the town high level bridge.

Each weekday morning, starting today, the Katherine Times will photograph the river’s level as recorded on the railway bridge gauge so readers can more easily monitor the river height during the wet.

Katherine’s rain totals have returned to something more like average in recent months with the town’s average for January is 265.9mm.

It was a hot and largely dry 2016 for Katherine.

According to the official Bureau of Meteorology records taken from the Tindal RAAF Base, we finished 2016 with 619.6mm boosted by a wet December.

The big fluctuations in rain totals can be seen with the 758.8mm recorded for the year at the Katherine Country Club.

Katherine’s average annual rainfall is 1061.4mm but December’s total of 240.8mm (against an average of 218mm) helped in the rain recovery after a poor wet season.

Interestingly, Katherine Country Club’s December total was almost half that of Tindal, at 122.4mm.

For the first time since 2012 and only the fourth time since 1964, no tropical cyclones were observed in Australia’s northern region during 2016.

Only a weak cyclone (Yvette), which tracked across the top of WA has developed so far this wet season.

The bureau’s annual climate report also shows Tindal recorded its highest annual mean temperature last year since records began, a rise to 28.6 degrees from 28.2 degrees recorded in 1986.

Mean maximum temperatures for Katherine last year were 35.5 degrees which was a record. The previous highest mean maximum temperature was 35 degrees from 2013.

Readers are invited to catch watching for our daily snapshot of the river’s level as the wet continues.