Vernon was the first tropical cyclone to affect the Eastern region in thc 1985-86 season. A cloud mass was evident in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria for several days prior to the formation of the tropical low that was to become Vernon .
After its formation at 0000 UTC 21 January, the low was initially slow-moving but gradually accelerated during the crossing of Cape York Peninsula development was minimal. At 0400 UTC 23 January the low crossed the coast between Cairns and Innisfail. Once over the ocean intensification commenced and cyclonic intensity was reached at 1200 UTC 23 January near 17.8°S,148.1°E with a central pressure of 995 hPa.
Maximum intensity was reached at 0000 UTC on 24 January with a central pressure of 990 hPa at 19.0°S, 152.0°E. Cyclonic intensity was lost 13 to 14 hours later and the resulting low was no longer evident by 2100 UTC 24 January. The highest reported wind was 87 km/h (0000 UTC 24 January) from a ship at 15.3°S, 144.4°E.