Tropical Cyclone Winifred registered as a category 3 storm. Wind gusts up to 175 km per hour, were reported near Cowley Beach, south of Innisfail. Damage and disruption extended from north of Cairns to Cardwell and inland on a narrow front to Ravenshoe. The worst affected areas that suffered flooding were between Babinda and Tully.

The tide gauge at Clump Point recorded a storm surge of 1.6m. Wave run-up on beaches was approximately 2m above the astronomical tide. Significant 24-hr rainfalls during the period were; Topaz 304 mm, Ravenshoe 373 mm, Tully 212 mm, lnnisfail 221 mm and Babinda 251 mm.

Two deaths resulted from wind effects and one from drowning. The Insurance Council of Australia estimated the 1986 damage at $40m, with the 2007 estimated repeated cost of $176m. Winifred crossed the coast with a radar eye diameter of 41 km just south of Innisfail. Instrumentation at Cowley Beach, which was near the southern eye wall at landfall, showed the maximum 10 min average wind was between 68 knots and 83 knots. Further to the north the maximum gust at Cairns was 64 knots. Central pressures of 958 hPa were observed at both Cowley Beach and South Johnstone. Some extreme wind effects where observed to the north in the westerly winds.

A house severely damaged on a 70m ridge north of Innisfail was calculated to have been hit by a 145 knot gust. Other structural Damage: Innisfail- 190 houses damaged ranging from extensive to minor; Mourilyan 20 houses unroofed every other house damaged 12 vessels sunk in harbour; South Johnstone- 30 houses unroofed 50 damaged; El Arish - one house destroyed, 15 unroofed and most others damaged; Babinda -16 buildings (shops, churches, houses) damaged severely, 50 houses unroofed and 500 houses in district damaged; Silkwood -25 houses severely damaged 25 partly damaged; Mirriwinni-50 houses damaged; Kurrimine Beach- 25 houses severely damaged 51 partly damaged; Cairns - 5 houses unroofed and 10 damaged; Millaa Millaa- 12 houses damaged 150 to 300 farm buildings damaged; Malanda -30 houses damaged 20 farm buildings severely damaged. A near record flood occurred in the Herbert R. and a major flood occurred in the Tully River.

The total coast of Damage reached 130 million 1986 dollars of which $87M was agricultural damage. There were 3 deaths two from wind effects and one drowning.

1986: Beach erosion caused by Cyclone Winifred at Kurrimine Beach

Rockhampton Regional Council in partnership with the Queensland a…

Cyclone Winifred, 1986: Satellite image

Cyclone Winifred, 1986: track