Cyclone Debbie strengthens to cat 2 on way to probable cat 4 as it continues towards Queensland coast
A cyclone off northern Queensland has intensified to a category two and could reach category four by the time it crosses the coast somewhere between Cardwell and Bowen, near Townsville, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has warned.
The tropical low was declared as Cyclone Debbie, a category one system, at 11:00am and is currently expected to cross the north Queensland coast on Tuesday morning, although it could be sooner or later.
BOM Queensland regional director Bruce Gunn said a degree of uncertainty remained in how the system would behave.
At 10:44pm AEST on Saturday the system was a category two, with sustained winds near the centre of 100 kilometres per hour gusting to 140 kilometres per hour.
At that time, it was 560 kilometres east of Cairns and 520 kilometres east-north-east of Townsville, moving slowly west-south-west.
The bureau says conditions remain favourable for Debbie to develop further before landfall, which will likely be between Townsville and Proserpine.
Gales are expected to develop about the coast and islands between Ayr and Mackay on Sunday afternoon or evening, possibly as far south as St Lawrence.
On Monday, gales could extend as far north as Cairns while destructive winds gusting over 125 kilometres per hour are expected to develop between Lucinda and Mackay.
When the system crosses the coast, it is expected to have wind gusts near 260 kilometres per hour at its centre, bringing abnormally high tides between at least Lucinda and Mackay.
People living in areas likely to be affected by flooding are warned to take measures to protect their property as much as possible and to monitor emergency broadcasts.
Courtesy of abc.net.au