Cyclone Debbie is expected to cross the coast as a severe category four storm on Tuesday morning. At this stage, landfall is expected between 7am and 8am, but exactly where remains unclear.
NITV Staff Writers

27 Mar 2017 - 12:30 PM  UPDATED 27 Mar 2017 - 3:42 PM

The Bureau of Meteorology regional director, Bruce Gunn, said modelling has suggested Cyclone Debbie will make landfall somewhere "south of the Ayr area".

"But it is possible the crossing area could be anywhere between Townsville and Proserpine. That is the uncertainty of cyclones," he said.

SBS News correpondent, Stefan Armbruster, who is in Townsville, has reported the eye of the cyclone is travelling south for around three hundred kms and looks like it will hit Mackay, whihc means that Palm Island might be spared.

He's been told the cyclone shouldn’t not be an intense as Yasi, but will still cause a lot of damage as the eye is wider.


Bowen resident Paul Ryle told NITV News it has started to shower in his area.

"[It] is completely overcast and the wind has started to pick-up."

Despite the weather, Mr Ryle said he's "kicking back, waiting to see how it pans out ... [but] it’s a long way out to sea yet”.

Police Commissioner Ian Stewart warned everyone in the cyclone's path to think carefully about their safety and said one person had already died in a traffic crash in Proserpine.

"Sadly, we have just learned that there has been a fatal traffic accident near Proserpine and we believe it is associated with this weather event and it looks like a tourist has lost their life in that traffic accident," he said.

"The message is very, very clear at this stage. It is time to think very logically about your safety and the safety of your family."

Dwain Guivarra, an Auxiliary Fire Fighter from the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services travelled from Cairns to Ayr to help run a refuge centre.

He told NITV News his team is still waiting for people to turn up.

“Currently there’s 20 odd people. The weather is really nice outside still, light breeze, bit overcast and no wind.

“Once the winds pick up, we’ll lock down everyone one inside this shelter and no one will be allowed out until it’s safe to go outside again.”

“We’re having multiple briefings every time there’s a major change in BOM forecast,” he said.  

Mr Guivarra told NITV News there is plenty of collaboration between all emergency services, including the Queensland police, ambulance services, Queensland Fire and SES. 

“We’re all working together… A lot of people from a special taskforce from Brisbane, which are specialising in rescue, including swift water rescue technicians who are the guys who go save people in flooded areas, an arm of Fire and Emergency services brought in from Brisbane. They’ve also brought in big machinery, semi-trailers with heaps of special gear for this event.”

Residents who don't feel safe in their homes are being urged to go to the refuge centre at the showgrounds as soon as possible.

Shopfronts in the small town centre of Ayr in north Queensland are being boarded up and filled with sandbags ahead of the onslaught of Cyclone Debbie.

The CBD was teeming with business owners on Monday morning as they set about removing stock from shop windows, packing shopfronts with sandbags to prevent flooding and boarding up windows as a defence against flying debris.

Toyworld owner Chris Watt expected all the town's shop owners to be finished securing their businesses and be out of the area by midday, but he said flooding was his main concern, not strong wind, due to the sturdiness of the buildings.

"These buildings are old but really sturdy," he said.

"But I don't know how the trees outside are going to go."

Coral Coast Electrical worker Scott Heidke has been busy boarding up the windows.

"It's not going to stop the wind but the glass is pretty strong," he said

Mr Heidke said he would not be leaving his home, located 15km from Ayr.

The Bureau of Meteorology predicts Cyclone Debbie will intensify into a Category 4 ahead of making landfall around 7am on Tuesday morning.

It is currently tracked to cross the coast between Ayr and Bowen.

Cape York

Mayor of Wujal-Wujal, Desmond Tayley told NITV News that the weather was fine in Cape York, but residents had been warned of changes as the cyclone approaches.

“The government State Disaster Coordination Centre seems to think we will get widespread rain. But at this stage I can’t see any signs of it at the moment. We may get something once it gets closer to land fall,” he said.

The tropical cyclone headed towards Queensland is predicted to be the worst storm to hit the region since Yasi, six years ago.

More updates coming soon

Get out now: Qld Premier urges residents to evacuate as Debbie winds hit
Tropical cyclone Debbie is expected to build in intensity as it barrels towards Queensland's north coast, as communities prepare to bunker down.