Townsville braces for Tropical Cyclone Debbie

UPDATE 8PM: The latest forecast for Tropical Cyclone Debbie has the system making landfall further south along the coast, heading directly for Ayr.

Models are pointing to an increasingly strong chance that the cyclone to reach Category 4 status by the time it reaches the region, with the cyclone set to start making its way southwest as the night goes on.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Michael Paech said there had been minor changes since the 5pm forecast but the final destination of the cyclone was still being determined.

“We are still forecasting for around Ayr with a Category 4 cyclone so you will see an eye and around there very destructive winds,” he said.

“An important message to get out there is the difference between the warning and the watch zones because there’s been some confusion.

“The current warning zones (Ayr, Bowen, Mackay and Whitsunday Islands) are where we are expecting gales within 24 hours.

“For Townsville, as a watch zone, it’s likely you see gales sometime Sunday but at the moment that doesn’t look like it will be within that time period.”

media_cameraBOM Cyclone Debbie Forecast Track map for 8pm, Saturday March 25.

5PM: Tropical Cyclone Debbie is now most likely to make landfall south of Townsville as a Category 4 system, according to revised forecasts from the Bureau of Meteorology.

New advice posted by BOM just before 5pm has revealed modelling which has the cyclone crossing the coast between Townsville and Proserpine early Tuesday morning with wind gusts of up to 260km/h at its centre.

At the moment the system is currently a Category 1 cyclone and is 560km northeast off Townsville but conditions are favourable for this to intensify before it makes landfall.

The bureau’s has described its movement as slow throughout Saturday but over the next few hours this is expected to change as it heads in steady direction southwest towards the coast.

Destructive winds are expected to develop around the Whitsunday Islands Monday evening…

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