Tropical Cyclone Winifred

27 January - 5 February 1986


Winifred developed from a tropical low first identified on the afternoon of 27 January, about 450 km north of Cairns. Winifred crossed the coast south of Innisfail at about 0900 UTC 1 February at 17.6°S, 146.1°E with a central pressure of 957 hPa. The system then moved inland and rapidly lost cyclonic intensity. The resulting depression was still evident until 6 February moving first southwest then southeast and finally northeast.

At or shortly before landfall Winifred was estimated to be at its most intense. Gales extended over 160 km from Cairns to Cardwell. Estimated winds between 130 and 150 km/h were reported by the observer at Innisfail. However, the Joint Tropical Trials and Research Establishment at Cowley Beach over which the eye passed provided instrumental data suggesting a maximum mean wind of 126 km/h.

From this it is estimated that gusts to 176 km/h occurred. The barograph at South Johnstone, also in or close to the eye during the coastal crossing, recorded a minimum pressure of 958 hPa. Cairns radar tracked a complete eye from 0300 UTC 1 February. The mean diameter was then 51 km, decreasing to 49 km as the leading edge of the eye reached the coast, and still further to 41 km as the eye crossed the coast. The tide gauge at Clump Point recorded a storm surge of 1.6 metres. Wave run-up on beaches was about 2 metres above the astronomical tide.

Significant 24-hour rainfalls during the period were Topaz 304 mm, Ravenshoe 373 mm, Tully 212 mm, lnnisfail 221 mm and Babinda 251 mm.

There were three deaths attributed to tropical cyclone Winifred . One during the storm, one as a result of associated flooding and a third from severe injuries sustained during the event.

The best estimate of damage cost is between $130 and $150 million, most of this being crop losses to the value of about $90 million.

Winifred produced the most disastrous effects on the Queensland coast of any tropical cyclone since Althea in 1971.

For more information see the detailed BoM Report on cyclone Winifred .

Track and intensity

Best Track of Tropical Cyclone Winifred