Tropical Cyclone Debbie Lashes Northeast Australia

Debbie is now 400km east of Townsville and is expected to make landfall between Rollingstone and Proserpine.

But the cyclone has tracked further south and the pair are preparing to head back into Townsville tonight to wait out the last moments of calm before the cyclone hits.

Corey said he volunteered for the job because of the excitement working through a natural disaster but more importantly to help his fellow paramedics and those affected by the cyclone.

"Because of the intensity of this cyclone and the timing at the moment that it is due to cross land, we are very concerned at the moment about the perspective, the tidal surge in Mackay", she said in a press conference.

"The very destructive core of Tropical Cyclone Debbie is now expected to cross the coast between Townsville and Proserpine on Tuesday morning, most likely as a category four tropical cyclone, with wind gusts up to 260km/h near the centre".

So far, more than 3,500 people have been evacuated from the area between the towns of Home Hill and Proserpine, about 100km south of Townsville, a popular tourist spot used to access the Great Barrier Reef.

Emergency crews have ordered residents to shelter indoors and have warned that they will be unable to attend calls while the storm rages on.

The storm is expected to hit the coastline between Mackay and Townsville. It's too early to say whether the winds would affect the current forecast for a crop of 37 million tonnes of sugar cane in the harvest that starts in eight to nine weeks, Paul Schembri, the group's chairman, said in an interview.

Locals continued to evacuate on Monday morning, as the category 2 cyclone turned west on its final approach to the coast.

Areas of the Whitsundays were told to evacuate on Sunday afternoon, while residents in the nearby Burdekin Shire Council region were also told to leave in the evening, including Alva Beach, Groper Creek, Jerona, Wunjunga and some areas of Rita Island.

Debbie was upgraded to a Category 4 storm earlier today, and it's intensifying quickly.

It's expected to make landfall between Mackay and Bowen.

The storm's winds and waves will push a unsafe storm surge inland.

The premier urged residents to do as emergency service personnel asked, amid reports some people were refusing to leave.

Schools between Ayr and Prosperine will also be closed.

  • Leroy Wright