Severe Tropical Cyclone Niran

27 February - 5 March 2021
Best Track of Severe Tropical Cyclone Niran
All times shows are in Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST), that is UTC + 10 hours.

Severe tropical cyclone Niran began developing off the north Queensland coast as a low-pressure system on 27 February. Initially, the low moved slowly towards the Cairns coast, but then it began moving northwards from 1 March. The system was named on 2 March as it became slow moving approximately 260 km off the north Queensland coast.  

Niran remained slow moving for the next two days while gradually intensifying to a category 3 system. It began accelerating towards the southeast on 4 March, passing to the north of Willis Island in the afternoon. Niran continued to intensify as it moved south-eastwards, becoming a category 5 cyclone on 6 March, just before it crossed the Eastern Region boundary [160 degrees East].

Throughout its entire lifetime, tropical cyclone Niran was never expected to make landfall or have a direct impact on the mainland. However, during its initial stages of development on 1 March, gales were experienced on the north Queensland coast due to the tightening pressure gradient. There were reports of minor structural damages, mainly due to falling trees, but the main impact was to the banana plantations along the Cassowary Coast, between Cains and Lucinda. Some growers around Innisfail, particularly at Boogan and Wangan reported total loss of their crop.

The winds along the coast were accompanied by heavy rainfall leading to localised flash flooding and flooding of low-lying areas. A Flood watch had been current for coastal catchments between Cooktown and Rollingstone. The winds and heavy rainfall eased on the coast as the tropical low moved northwards and slightly off the coast on 2 March.

Gales continued over the coastal and offshore waters between Cooktown and Lucinda as tropical cyclone Niran remained slow-moving and intensified over the next two days, 2 to 4 March. Gales and large waves were reported over the Willis Island as a category 3 cyclone moved close to 110 km north of the island on 4 March.   

An intense category 5 cyclone moved very close to New Caledonia around midnight on 6 March with  destructive winds and heavy rainfall causing extensive damage to the power grid and vegetation. Later that day, the cyclone passed 400 km north of Norfolk Island, generating large swells and hazardous surf conditions.  

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

Extreme values during event (estimated)

Note that these values may be changed on the receipt of later information

Maximum Category: 5
Maximum sustained wind speed: 205 km/h
Maximum wind gust: 285 km/h
Lowest central pressure: 931 hPa