Cyclone forces evacuations in Queensland

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said dozens of schools would be closed for the cyclone. In Australia, the stretch of time where storms are most likely to develop runs between November and the end of April.

The slowing of Cyclone Debbie has also raised fears of a potentially more destructive storm surge, with police ordering compulsory evacuations across low-lying area in the Whitsundays region.

The cyclone was churning over the Pacific Ocean as a Category 3 storm on Monday, with wind gusts up to 165 kilometres per hour (100 mph).

Cyclone Debbie is expected to gather strength before making landfall in the northeast state early on Tuesday, with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology forecasting a category four storm, just one rung below the most risky wind speed level.

Ms Palaszczuk said the farming region has never experienced a storm stronger than Category 2 and warned that older homes would not withstand a Category 4 storm.

The Port of Mackay is also closed, a spokesperson for North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation told Lloyd's List Australia.

"The cyclone shelters have capacity for 800 people each and are only available to those people at highest risk from cyclone effects that have no other option", he said.

Meanwhile, about 1,000 extra emergency service personnel have flown into the region.

"I just told them to take water, money, food".

Flash flooding and river flooding from heavy rainfall are also possible impacts near the coast and farther inland along Debbie's path.

"My priority is for Queenslanders to be safe, right up and down the coastal communities that are in the zone". Up to 25,000 people are affected, and residents have been told to prepare for flooding, the newspaper said.

"There is always a degree of uncertainty in forecasting cyclones, for this reason we urge the public to stay tuned for the latest official warnings from the Bureau of Meteorology and follow the advice of local emergency services".

"At this stage we can't rule out a category five system during the coming hours", BOM forecaster Brett Harrison said, reported ABC News Australia.

"I'm getting scared because of the ferocity of it".

"We are encouraging people to make sure they have a plan in place".

Ms Hahling said she was confident the supermarket wouldn't run out of stock completely thanks to a delivery truck arriving on Saturday and another expected on Monday, but non-perishables were being snapped up and may be sold out.

  • Carolyn Briggs