Darwin Airport anemometer recorded 217 km/h before failing, thus denying an exact reading of Tracy’s wind strength but they were estimated to have reached 250 km/h. Destructive winds battered the city for about six hours from 1am on Christmas morning. Fortunately, a 4 metre storm surge did not cause additional flood damage as the tide was low at the critical time, and the sea wall in Darwin Harbour is high.
The cyclone caused the largest-ever evacuation and reconstruction operations in peacetime Australia. A total of 35,362 people (of the approx 47,000 population) were evacuated, 25,628 by air (15,950 in civilian aircraft & 9,678 in military aircraft) and the remaining 9,734 by road, to southern cities for many months.
On 17 March 2005, the Northern Territory Coroner ruled that six people listed as missing during Cyclone Tracy have now been officially declared deceased (perished at sea), following an Inquest into the final two shipwrecks resulting from Cyclone Tracy. The Inquest outcome increased the official death toll due to Cyclone Tracy from 65 to 71.