As the eye wall of severe tropical cyclone Debbie continues to impact the Whitsundays this afternoon the BoM Cyclone Warning Zone now shifts inland to Charters Towers, Mount Coolon, Moranbah, and Pentland. Townsville to St Lawrence and extends to include Townsville, Mackay.
BoM warns of major river flooding over a broad area this week, and a Flood Watch for coastal catchments between Ayr and the NSW border, extending inland to parts of the Central Highlands and Coalfields, Central West, Maranoa and Warrego, and Darling Downs and Granite Belt forecast districts.
At three this afternoon Debbie was estimated to be 45 kilometres southeast of Bowen and 10 kilometres northwest of Proserpine at Category 3 intensity.
Emergency Services are now also concerned for Collinsville.
At least one man has been injured badly by a collapsing wall and authorities are warning there could be deaths as the impact of Cyclone Debbie is likely to last up to five days.
45,000 homes were without power and structural damage had been reported in Proserpine.
Bureau of Meteorology regional director Bruce Gunn Collinsville, should be ready for Cat 3 winds, in excess of 165 (kilometres per hour) sometime later this evening.
“There’s still many hours to go and we hope people can stay safe in their homes and stay sheltered.”
“We know the Bowen radar has fallen over. It’s not operating any more, but we are still tracking the cyclone from Townsville and Mackay.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has also warned of a possible second storm surge later in the day.
“This will not pass during the day. For the next 12 hours, I need families to remain safe, and remain where they are.”
It’s expected Cyclone Debbie will move slowly southwest over the next 12 to 18 hours before curving to a more southerly track over inland Queensland, weakening as she goes however, heavy rain is expected to continue across the region.
Wind gusts over 125 km/h are occurring about the coast and islands between about Cape Upstart and Cape Hillsborough (north of Mackay), including Bowen and Proserpine and may still reach 220 km/h near the centre for the next hour or two.
Those gusts will extend further west along the coast to areas to Ayr during this afternoon and BoM says they may extend to inland to Collinsville, and Mount Coolon late today into this evening but destructive winds are no longer in Townsville, Charters Towers, Mackay or Sarina.
The focus now is to areas of heavy rain with the potential to cause severe flash flooding have developed around the Central Coast and Whitsundays district. A swift water rescue team has been deployed at Proserpine in anticipation of potential flooding.
These heavy rain areas are expected to spread further inland through central and southeastern Queensland. Widespread daily rainfall totals of 150 to 250 mm are expected.
Australian Army Brigadier Chris Field has been appointed to lead the recovery efforts in north Queensland following Tropical Cyclone Debbie.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made the bipartisan decision this afternoon.
The Townsville-based Brigadier Field led the Queensland Reconstruction Authority after the 2011 floods and Cyclone Yasi.
Premier Palaszczuk says his previous experience made him the perfect candidate to lead north Queensland in yet another rebuild.