The wet season threatens to fizzle out before the Katherine River has a chance to rise, a veteran weather watcher fears.
During the wet season the rising height of the river is usually a sight worth seeing, but for the past two years the level has been a spectacle for a different reason.
Jim Mathieson says in his almost 40 years of living and recording rain totals in Katherine he has never seen a poorer season.
The river typically rises high above 10 metres each year, soaking and replenishing the Katherine aquifer for the dry months ahead.
But the 2018 to 2019 wet season saw the river barely rise above six metres, and the river lever this current wet season has barely climbed a metre.
"It has been a fizzer," Mr Mathieson said.
"It is fairly unusual for the river to not get to 10 metres or much higher, but there must be people living in town now who have never seen it rise.
"The shower we had last night is only the third day it has rained in February, which is usually our wettest month.
"We would have to have some pretty massive rainfalls to catch up with our average."
Mr Mathieson moved to Katherine in 1981 as a math and science teacher and was the official weather observer in town from 2005 to 2011.
He checks and records rain totals each day during the wet season in his backyard guage and said just 20mls were recorded for the month of December, a month that usually averages out to above 200mls.
He said at this time of year, the spear grass, currently at knee height, usually stands high above heads, the council closes the Low Level Bridge for weeks as water rushes past, and the hot springs is metres underwater.
"I think this wet season has probably been the driest since I've been here.
"Across October, November and December I registered just 59mm, which is very low, we had a shower last night and we got a bit in January.
"The river has not been up at all this year.
"I would call that very unusual."
Mr Mathieson sounded the alarm one year ago as Katherine struggled through its first worryingly poor wet season.
By this date last year, he had recorded 515mm and said the average for the year should be around 1100mms.
Today, he has recorded just 270mm since the start of the wet at the beginning of October.
With the wet season due to finish by around the end of March and little rain on the horizon, he says Katherine is bracing for a tough summer.
Despite the variability of weather, which saw a minor flood sweep through Katherine in the first week of April in 2006, Mr Mathieson said it is likely Katherine will experience a drier year than last year.
"People who rely on rain to grow grass for stock will be in trouble," Mr Mathieson said.
About 130 kilometres south, west of Katherine on Dixie Station, Bill Doyle says he is looking at a "disastrous" year ahead.
He arrived in the Northern Territory fresh from Florida 47 years ago chasing cheap land and free cattle.
But now, his damns are bone dry and his crops are barely turning a profit.
"I've never seen anything like this before," he said.
"Every day that ticks by is another day closer to the end of the wet season."
His lowest yearly rain total recorded is 488mm, but this year he has only recorded 315mm.
Dixie Station primarily raises young cattle and ships them out before the start of the tough dry season.
He says his concern has shifted to his crops of hay, which have not yielded much of a profit for the past two years.
"If I don't get rain in March I will likely only have half a crop of hay.
"That last rain in March really finishes it off when it's going to seed and we didn't get it last year either."
He says during a good season he is able to sell five tonnes, but this year he is looking at just a three tonne sale.
"That only pays for next year's seed and fertiliser. We won't see a profit."
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