Queensland spirit shines through as Cyclone moves closer

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said Tropical Cyclone Debbie strengthened to a Category 4 storm system with 102 miles per hour sustained winds, prompting the evacuations of about 25,000 people.

Cairns - Thousands of people including tourists were evacuated on Monday, 27 March, as northern Australia braced for a powerful cyclone packing destructive winds with warnings of major structural damage and surging tides.

"I think you could say that Debbie's probably the most significant tropical cyclone since Yasi that we've had to deal with in Queensland", BOM Queensland regional director Bruce Gunn said.

Tropical Cyclone Debbie is now a Category 2 system and is likely to reach Category 4 intensity at the time of crossing the Queensland coast.

Authorities are expecting major damage to structures and risky tidal surges as the storm makes landfall.

"We're a bit excited to be heading back down", Corey said.

Debbie is expected to cross land as a category four cyclone, carrying the risk of significant structural damage and unsafe airborne debris, according to the weather bureau.

Despite warnings, some residents have said they would rather ride the storm out at home than evacuate.

Schools have been closed and flights have been canceled ahead of the storm.

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

"It's going to actually depend on where the cycone croses and the time that it crosses at to whether or not there will be a tidal surge", she said.

The BOM has warned that this will be worst since Cyclone Yasi in 2011.

Thirty lives were lost when destructive winds tore buildings apart and drove a storm surge across the coast.

Stewart said there were grave concerns for the coastal town because it is a "low-lying" area that is likely to be affected by a 0.8-2.5m storm surge, caused by a risky combination of a category 4 cyclone and high tide.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said dozens of schools would be closed for the cyclone.

Palaszczuk said police went door-to-door Monday attempting to get people to leave their homes.

"It's very clear the time for people to move is now". The storm surge could add an additional 4m, Ms Palaszczuk said.

"My priority is for Queenslanders to be safe, right up and down the coastal communities that are in the zone".

People living in areas likely to be affected by this flooding should take measures to protect their property and be prepared to evacuate if ordered to do so.

"In relation to energy we have over 800 power workers ready in the region, we've sent 75 further energy workers from the southeast today and another 130 will be going up tomorrow", she said.

Northeast Australia is bracing for the arrival of a "monster" cyclone expected to bring waves of up to 8m (26ft) in height to the Queensland coast.

  • Carolyn Briggs