Queensland cyclone: Cyclone Debbie could hit coast near Townsville

A LOW off the coast of north Queensland has developed into Cyclone Debbie.

And it could intensify into a category-five cyclone if conditions are right.

Premier Annastacia Palazczuk said this morning the low was expected to form into a cyclone by 11am. The Bureau of Meteorology later confirmed this had happened.

Exactly when and where it could cross the coast was not yet known, with Ms Palaszczuk warning residents from Cooktown to Mackay to prepare now.

Bureau of Meterology acting regional director Bruce Gunn said the cyclone could cross the coast as early as tomorrow night.

But he said if the system slowed down, conditions were such that he could not rule out it forming into a category-five cyclone.

“Over the next few days conditions are ripe for that cyclone to intensify and develop further,” he said.

“At the moment our timing is thinking that the crossing of the coast will be some time around Monday night or into Tuesday.

“But it is still a very uncertain situation. If the cyclone were to speed up you could feel impacts on the coast as early as Sunday night.

“Alternatively it could slow down but the longer time… could see it intensify into a category-five.

“I can’t rule that out, but at the moment our estimate is for a category-five system to impact the coast, with the centre crossing somewhere between Cardwell and Bowen.

“But we have a watch area that extends from Cape Tribulation to St Lawrence in the South.”

The Premier urged Queenslanders to “prepare now”.

Ms Palaszczuk issued a plea to everyone living between Cooktown and Mackay to use the weekend to prepare for cyclone Debbie.

“We do not know at this stage exactly where the cyclone is going to cross landfall,” she told this morning’s briefing.

“I understand that up north today the weather conditions are fine, everything is calm and there are blue skies.

“This is the time you should now be preparing, make sure that property is secured, your gutters are clean, use this time to get…

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