1995-1996 Australian region cyclone season was an active Australian cycloneseason, with Western Australia experiencing a record number of landfalling intense storms in the Pilbara region. The season produced a total of 19 tropical cyclones, of which 14 developed into named storms and 9 reached severe tropical cyclone status. The strongest of the season was Severe Tropical Cyclone Olivia, which also produced the highest recorded wind gust on record of 408 km/h (253 mph). Though several systems impacted land, the general sparsity of population centres in Australia limits the scale of damage. One person was confirmed to have been killed and cumulative losses were estimated at A$77 million (US$58.5 million).
The first storm of the year and most intense across the Southern Hemisphere during the 1995–96 seasons, Cyclone Daryl was first identified several hundred kilometres west of Sumatra on 16 November. Initially tracking south-eastward, the system gradually attained gale-force winds as it neared the Cocos Islands late on 17 November. Squally conditions and heavy rain impacted the islands but no damage took place. Low wind shear allowed for further strengthening; a mid-level ridge south of the system forced Daryl to turn towards the west. Early on 19 November, the storm intensified into a severe tropical cyclone and attained winds of 130 km/h (80 mph) before crossing 90°E and entering the Mauritius area of responsibility. Upon crossing this border, Daryl was assigned a second name, Agnielle, by Mauritius. Over the following days, the system further deepened, peaking in strength as a Category 5 on the Australian intensity scale with 205 km/h (125 mph) and a barometric pressure of 915 hPa (mbar; 27.02 inHg). Steady weakening took place due to markedly stronger wind shear. Cyclone Daryl-Agnielle was last noted as a weak low pressure center on 25 November over the open waters of the southern Indian Ocean.
It formed on 6 December 1995, and was the first cyclone to form in northwest coast of Australia during the 95/96 season. Cyclone Frank brought heavy winds and rains to the Pilbara coast. Frank was one of four cyclones to strike in that area.
A tropical low formed in the Timor Sea on 16 December and tracked westsouthwest as it deepened slowly. The low crossed into the WA region on 17 December and was named Gertie on the afternoon of the 18th. The cyclone then moved towards the southsouthwest during the 19th but slowed to be almost stationary during the late afternoon and evening of that day.
Gertie then began to move south, then southeastwards, crossing the coast near Mandora Station on 20 December. Gertie then passed to the northeast of Telfer producing near gale force winds and heavy rain before dissipating on the 21st. The storm did only minor damage.
Barry formed in the Gulf of Carpentaria on 4 January, reaching a maximum intensity of Category 3 (Australian scale) before crossing the coast between Karumba and Kowanyama two days later. Heavy rains caused severe flooding across the southern Cape York Peninsula, however there were no deaths reported.
Tropical Cyclone Celeste formed on 26 January and rapidly intensified into a Category 3 (Australian scale) system. The cyclone moved away from the coast after dumping heavy rain on the Central Coast. One man drowned in floodwaters near Bowen.
TC Jacob formed on 1 February 1996 from a monsoonal low that moved across the Northern Territory and the Kimberley region of Western Australia before tracking over the Bonaparte Gulf. It closely followed the Western Australian coast and developed cyclone characteristics near Adele Island. Jacob continued to intensify and moved westsouthwestwards, roughly parallel to the Pilbara coast. At peak intensity Jacob was a Category 3 storm with wind gusts near the centre estimated to be 200 kilometres per hour. The Kimberley and Pilbara coastal areas received heavy rains as the cyclone passed offshore. Only minor damage occurred and there were no deaths.
Lasting from 5 April 1996 to 12 April, Olivia reached Category 4 and destroyed 55 houses (plus 27 damaged) at the mining town of Pannawonica. Several buildings also suffered roof damage at neighbouring Mount Tom Price. There were only 10 minor injuries. A gust of 267 km/h was recorded at Varanus Island which is the equal highest recorded wind gust in Australia. More recently, a review conducted by WMO confirmed a reported gust of 408 km/h on Barrow Island on 10 April 1996, at the peak of the storm, making it the highest gust ever recorded on earth during a non-tornadic storm.
Tropical cyclones are assigned names by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology or Papua New Guinea. Tropical cyclones are named if they are non-frontal low pressure systems of synoptic scale developing over warm waters, or if Dvorak intensity analysis indicate the presence of gale force or stronger winds near the centre. Therefore, tropical systems with gales in one or more quadrants, but not near the centre, are not named. All names assigned in the Australian region are selected sequentially. Only the names used during this cyclone season are listed below. The complete list of names for each basin are found in the World Meteorological Organization's official lists.
Each Australian Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre (Perth, Darwin, and Brisbane) maintained a list of names arranged alphabetically and alternating male and female. Tropical cyclones that develop in the South-East Indian Ocean are assigned names by the Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre in Perth. This region includes the areas east of 90°E, south of the Equator, and west of 125°E. Tropical cyclones that develop south of the Equator between 125°E and 141°E are assigned names by the Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre in Darwin, Northern Territory. This area includes most of the cyclones that form in the Arafura Sea and Western Gulf of Carpentaria. Tropical cyclones in the Coral Sea and Eastern Gulf of Carpentaria between 141°E and 160°E and south of 10°S are assigned names by the Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre in Brisbane, Queensland.