Tropical Cyclone Penny

Queensland Regional Office

Track of Tropical Cyclone Penny

Tropical cyclone Penny made landfall along the west coast of Cape York Peninsula, near Weipa, late on New Year's Day 2019, as a category 1 strength system. The most significant impacts during this event were not directly associated with Penny, but more so with the monsoon that was active to the north of the Australian continent at the time. There were reports of multiple fatalities in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands due to the impacts of monsoonal rain and winds during late December and early January.

The tropical low that became Penny was first identified and tracked in the northwest Coral Sea, offshore of Lockhart River, on 28 December. In the days leading up to New Year's Eve, the low drifted slowly west across Cape York Peninsula and towards the northern Gulf of Carpentaria. The low quickly showed signs of development within 24 hours of moving over northern Gulf of Carpentaria waters and by the end of 31 December the system began to adopt a track back towards the east under the influence of the monsoonal flow to the north of the system. As the environment around the Gulf of Carpentaria was conducive for development, the low was able to form into a tropical cyclone and was subsequently named Penny at 7am AEST on New Year's Day, approximately 100km west of Weipa.

A 0.8 metre storm surge was recorded by the Weipa storm tide gauge on 1 January, which lead to a marginal exceedance of the Highest Astronomical Tide level. Large waves were also observed for a brief period at the Weipa wave monitoring gauge.

Following landfall, Penny continued to track in an eastwards direction across Cape York Peninsula and emerged over the northwest Coral Sea on 2 January. The environment in the Coral Sea was conducive for development and as a result Penny was able to reform into a tropical cyclone by 4pm AEST on 2 January. Over the next few days, Penny tracked further across the Coral Sea and peaked as a category 2 strength system on 4 January. By 5 January, Penny was slowly weakening and downgraded to a tropical low as it became removed from the monsoonal flow to the north of the system and as drier mid-level air began to entrain into the circulation.

The remnants of Penny tracked back towards the Queensland east coast over the next few days and the system once more made landfall near Bowen on 9 December. Heavy rainfall occurred in areas of central and northern Queensland on the days following landfall, including a day where Strathbogie (south of Ayr and west of Bowen) received 432mm in the 24 hours to 9am on 10 January.

** All information relating to intensity and track is preliminary information based on operational estimates and subject to change following post-event analysis*

Coastal Crossing Details
Crossing time: 3pm AEST Tuesday 1 January 2019
Crossing location: Weipa
  10km SW of Weipa
Category when crossing the coast: 1

Extreme values during cyclone event (estimated)
Note that these values may be changed on the receipt of later information
Maximum Category: 2
Maximum sustained wind speed: 90 km/h
Maximum wind gust: 130 km/h
Lowest central pressure: 987 hPa