Queensland is about to be hit by a cyclone that’s been developing in the Coral Sea over the weekend.
Tropical Cyclone Debbie is expected intensify to Category 4 strength as it crosses the Queensland coast on Tuesday morning near Townsville.
The storm will be the biggest and most dangerous since cyclone Yasi in 2011 with forcast wind gusts of 230 km/h near its core.
“Communities between Lucinda and St Lawrence, including Townsville, Bowen and Mackay, may experience gales in the next 24 hours, with the Whitsundays and surrounding coastal islands among the first areas to be impacted,” Queensland regional director Bruce Gunn said.
“Storm surge is also risk factor, and if the cyclone crosses the coast around high tide this will enhance these effects. People living in coastal or low-lying areas prone to flooding should follow the advice of local emergency services and relocate while there is time.”
Gunn said the storm is likely to maintain cyclone strength for some distance inland with destructive winds and significant rainfall.
Localised flash flooding is also likely, and the public is urged to stay tuned for warnings.
The Bureau of Meteorology has recommended people in the Whitsunday Islands should complete preparations quickly and be prepared to shelter in a safe place, while people between Lucinda and St Lawrence, and inland to Collinsville, should immediately commence or continue preparations.
People between Innisfail and Lucinda, and inland to Charters Towers, Pentland, and Mount Coolon should consider what action they will need to take if the cyclone threat increases.
Thousands have already reportedly been ordered to evacuate in low-lying areas in Bowen, Proserpine and Airlie Beach.
See imagery of Debbie here, created by software engineer Cameron Beccario.
His amazing weather website “earth” uses supercomputers to create visualisations of global weather forecasts, updating the images every three hours — and the result is devastatingly beautiful.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.