On 15 February 1996 a tropical depression located in the Gulf of Carpentaria, west of Mapoon began to intensify and move east as an upper trough moved from Central Australia into the Gulf. The upper trough was associated with a major extratropical cyclone developing east of Brisbane. The intensifying depression crossed Cape York and moved into the Coral Sea near Temple Bay.
The depression reached tropical cyclone strength at 0000 UTC 16 February 1996 and reached peaked intensity around 1200 UTC 16 February 1996. Its progress towards the east-southeast was slowed during 17 February 1996 as the upper trough began to weaken and a deep layered ridge developed to the southeast. By 18 February 1996 this ridging at lower levels began to steer the cyclone southwards as the upper flow sheared the convection off the centre. With the major extratropical cyclone to the south of Dennis a very weak pressure gradient existed between the two systems with no trade wind flow reaching Dennis . Perhaps as a consequence, the only observed gales were on the equatorward or monsoon side of Dennis .
No damage or casualties were associated with Dennis .