The pre-cyclone depression stage of Wilf developed about 300 km to the northwest of Cocos Island on 23 December 1979. As estimated from satellite photographs Wilf reached tropical cyclone intensity about 0600 UTC 25 December 1979. The cyclone continued to intensify rapidly and 18 hours later the central pressure was estimated to be near 980 hPa. Wilf remained at this intensity with minor fluctuations until about 1800 UTC on 28 December 1979. Peak intensity occurred early on 28 December 1979 when the central pressure dropped to about 973 hPa. Thereafter, Wilf weakened as strong northwesterlies at high levels began shearing the high cloud from the storm centre. After 29 December 1979 the cyclone exhibited marked short period (6 to 12 hour) fluctuations in convective activity as observed on satellite pictures, but was still of tropical cyclone intensity as it moved into the Mauritius Region at 0600 UTC 1 January 1980 and was renamed Danitza .
Features of the track were two major changes in the direction of movement on 26 and 28 December 1979. This suggests that a middle level trough (about 500 hPa) moved across the storm during this time and caused a temporary break in the sub-tropical ridge. No ship reports were received within 100 km of the storm centre.