Tropical Cyclone Debbie is just hours from reaching the northern Queensland coast.
It is predicted to hit the coast between Ayr and Cape Hillsborough, north of Mackay, before 10:00am tomorrow (Tuesday).
Evacuation areas are being expanded across Whitsundays, with low-lying areas in Bowen, Proserpine and Airlie Beach Burdekin and parts of Townsville region all being evacuated.
Cyclone Debbie is a currently a category three storm about 300 kilometres off the coast, but is tipped to become a category four cyclone.
The Bureau of Meteorology hasn’t ruled out the chance it will turn into a category five cyclone and has warned it will be the worst storm since Cyclone Yasi in 2011.
BoM meteorologist Adam Blazak says the system is now headed directly for the coast over warm water and continues to grow.
“The very destructive core of tropical cyclone Debbie is forecast to cross the coast between Rollingstone and Proserpine on Tuesday morning about 10am with wind gusts potentially to 240 km/h near the centre.”
Homes older than those built in 1985 are not expected to withstand the strength of the storm.
The Bureau of Meteorology hasn’t ruled out the chance it will turn into a category five cyclone and has warned it will be the worst storm since Cyclone Yasi in 2011
He says most of the coastline is expected to experience 120km/ hr winds and gusts over 240km/h in parts, which would see roofs damaged, powerlines down and trees uprooted.
A significant storm tide is expected across the Whitsunday Council Region today with a 4 metre surge expected.
It’s expected to effect and inundate the Red, Orange and Yellow (from Dingo Beach north to Cape Upstart including Bowen) Zones. A directed evacuation has been ordered for these Zones.
Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox says if your property is in the Red, Orange and Yellow (from Dingo Beach north to Cape Upstart including Bowen) Zones, you should finalize your cyclone preparations.
“You should be packing your evacuation kit and evacuate the Whitsunday Council Region and Cyclone Warning area as soon as possible. “
“Leaving evacuation until the last minute may mean evacuation routes are flooded and residents may not be able to leave the area.”
The Bureau of Meteorology have specifically warned residents between Lucinda and Mackay of a dangerous storm tide as the cyclone crosses the coast on Tuesday morning.
The sea is likely to rise steadily up to a level well above the normal tide, with damaging waves and flooding of some low-lying areas close to the shoreline as the cyclone approaches the coast on Tuesday. Large waves may also develop along the beachfront.
Police Commissioner IAN Stewart is already calling for more diligence with road users, following a fatal accident at Shute Hrabour this morning which it is reported has claimed the life of a tourist.
“We need you to help us to ensure there aren’t any further tragedies.”
Commissioner Stewart said roads would be progressively closed before the cyclone crosses the coast.
Further inland, the message from Charters Towers Regional Council is precise: make sure you are ready.
Mayor Liz Schmidt says Council was fully prepared for whatever eventuated and is calling on every family and business in the region to take the same precautions.
“The worst mistake anyone can make is to think that because Charters Towers is away from the coast these cyclone warnings don’t apply to me. My strong advice to everyone is making sure you follow all of the advice that is being made available on a regular basis.”
The Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) met at the Council Administration Building on Sunday afternoon. The LDMG is now is stand up mode. The LDMG will meet again at 1pm today.
The Mayor along with CEO Mark Crawley and the group’s executive officer Jenny Brown have been engaged with severe weather briefings since Friday. They have also been involved in other district teleconferences.
This level of preparedness from Council emphasizes the need to be ready for Cyclone Debbie.
Members of the LDMG will continue to meet each day to obtain briefings from the both the State Disaster Coordination Centre and the Townsville District Disaster Management Group.
There is a possibility that Cyclone Debbie could reach Charters Towers some time on Tuesday as a category one cyclone. It is also possible that it could be a category two which means destructive force winds and very heavy rain.
If you need assistance from SES please call 132 500.
The following website is the single point of truth regarding advice on which educational facilities may be closed and/or currently closed http://closures.det.qld.gov.au/
The following website is the Get Ready Queensland site that has helpful information for you as you prepare yourself and your family for disaster events http://getready.qld.gov.au/
Also remember that if it is flooded forget it.