Cyclone Michael
Category 4 severe tropical cyclone

Formed December 5, 2016
Dissipated December 11, 2016
Accumulated Cyclone Energy N/A
Highest winds 245km/h
(10-minute sustained)
Lowest pressure 935 mbar
Damages A$10,000,000
Direct Fatalities 1
Indirect Fatalities 2
Missing None
Areas affected Queensland
Part of the
2016-17 Australian Cyclone Season

Cyclone Michael was a very strong tropical cyclone that hit the town of Port Douglas, in the Australian state of Queensland. It was the worst tropical cyclone to hit Queensland in 30 years.

Meteorological History

Cyclone Michael developed out of a southern-moving disturbance spawned from a typhoon in the Northern Hemisphere. The disturbance moved over the equator and started organizing, being recognized as a Tropical Low about 2 degrees away from the Equator. Due to very warm sea surface temperatures that caused a major coral bleaching incident, Tropical Cyclone Michael was named twelve hours after formation. The cyclone moved towards Cairns and started rapidly intensifying. Michael rapidly intensified from winds of 70 km/h (45 mph) on December 6 to 185 km/h (115 mph) on December 7. There was still some uncertainty about whether Michael would weaken and dissipate before reaching Australia, with forecasters noting a wide range of possibilities. On December 8, Michael weakened slightly to a category 2-equivalent storm on the SSHS due to an eyewall replacement cycle. Due to rapidly decreasing wind shear and a new eye, Michael underwent a second burst of rapid intensification, with winds reaching as high as 245 kmh/h (150 mph) 10-minute winds shortly before landfall in Port Douglas, Queensland. Australians began preparations for the storm on December 7 as it was correctly forecast to make landfall as a strong category 4 cyclone. On December 9, Michael made landfall near Port Douglas, Queensland. Maximum sustained winds of 145 mph were observed that day in Queensland, setting a record for the date. Michael also caused a record of 7.19" of rain, as well as heavy thunderstorms, in Queensland. An EF4 tornado also formed near the city, but did not cause much damage due to it taking a path in an unpopulated region. Michael began to weaken over land, however, a large burst of flooding had occurred in the previous weeks, causing saturated ground over much of northern Australia. This phenomena led to Michael weakening more slowly than usual, and the system emerged south of Kowanyama as a Category 1 Cyclone. The system slowly curved back towards land as it slowly intensified once more, hitting Category 2 status as it made landfall near Pompuraaw. The system started to rapidly weaken, re-emerging one last time near Cape Melville as Michael became a Tropical Low and dissipated on December 11.


Despite Michael's strength, tornadoes and flooding, Michael only caused 3 fatalities, 1 direct and 2 indirect. The major lack of damage was attributed to the fact that after landfall, Michael took an unusual path into an unpopulated region. Michael was also relatively small, having a diameter of just 100 miles.