A tropical low was first analysed within the monsoon trough over northern Australia on 31 December. Convective activity was focussed around a well-developed middle-level circulation. A low-level easterly surge associated with a developing ridge over southern Australia pushed the tropical low northwest towards Melville Island on 2 January. Outflow over the system was enhanced by interaction with an upper trough and Rachel was named on 3 January (CST). The cyclone moved southwest and intensified, then weakened as it moved across the northern Kimberley, before moving out to sea again on 5 January near Cape Leveque and subsequently re-intensifying. The intensification was slow due to its proximity to land as it moved down the coast. The cyclone continued the southwest track under the influence of a trough to the southeast and a high north of the NT until midday on 7 January. It then slowed and abruptly changed course towards the south as a meridional ridge developed to the east of the cyclone. The eye of the cyclone passed directly over Port Hedland at 0830 UTC with reported average winds of 65 knots. The cyclone then continued to move southward, weakening as it passed over the Hamersley ranges overnight and was downgraded to below cyclone strength. Minor damages at Port Hedland were reported.
For more information see the TC Rachel Report (pdf)
Track and intensity
All times in WST - subtract 8 hours to convert to UTC.