Tropical Cyclone Kirrily made landfall along the Queensland coast late Thursday evening local time as a strong Category 3 storm, pummeling the coastline with powerful 170 km/h (105 mph) wind gusts and knocking out power to over 34,000 homes and businesses in Townsville in its wake. The cyclone originated earlier in the week as a humble tropical low situated over the warm waters of the Coral Sea northeast of Queensland.
Over the following days, the tropical low gradually gained strength over the balmy sea surface temperatures of the Coral Sea, which average 82-84°F (28-29°C) during the Australian cyclone season. Shower and thunderstorm activity began consolidating around the low-pressure centre by Tuesday morning as environmental conditions become more conducive for tropical cyclone development.
Meteorologists closely monitored the burgeoning low-pressure system via satellite imagery and aircraft reconnaissance as it slowly acquired more tropical characteristics. By Wednesday afternoon, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) designated the low as Tropical Cyclone 18P, indicating that sustained winds reached at least 35 mph.