Elinor was the second and last cyclone to occur in the Eastern Region during the season. It wandered erratically in the Coral Sea for more than two weeks before crossing the central Queensland coast.
Elinor originated as a tropical depression in the monsoon trough southwest of Honiara on 11 February. The depression moved to the southwest into the Coral Sea and reached tropical cyclone intensity at 0600 UTC 13 February. It intensified rapidly and then commenced its meandering track. The first of two peaks in intensity was reached on 15 February with an estimated central pressure of 966 hPa.
After 16 February it weakened while describing a large clockwise loop in the Coral Sea. However, the cyclone then re-intensified and from 21 to 27 February a well-defined eye was visible on satellite photographs.
On 26 February the cyclone attained its second and more intense peak. The lowest central pressure was assessed at 935 hPa. On 27 February it turned sharply to the southeast and gradually weakened. The weakening ceased temporarily on 1 March when Elinor turned southeast toward the Queensland coast. Despite some reports that it crossed the coast at cyclone intensity, Elinor likely weakened to a tropical low prior to finally crossing the coast near Carmila, about 90 km south of Mackay on 3 March.
At the time of greatest intensity the maximum wind was assessed at 180 km/h although reports from Pine Islet between 0800 UTC and 1500 UTC 2 March gave estimates of wind strength between 165 and 215 km/h. Reports of estimated winds to 130 km/h with 5 m waves and 7.5 m swell were received from ships within 100 km of the centre on 28 February and 2 March. Winds of 128 km/h were measured at Marion Reef at 0600 UTC 1 March.
The only major damage experienced was the wrecking of two ocean-going yachts near the coast. On southern parts of the central Queensland coast and adjacent lslands the damage was only minor. Trees up to 0.75 m diameter were blown down. Power disruptions and minor damage to houses occurred.
Some localised heavy rainfalls were recorded. Yeppoon registered 474 mm in the 48 hours to 4 March and Emu Park 340 mm.
The only report of any storm surge was from an observer on Collins Island who reported that tide heights were one metre above predicted levels.