North Queensland communities around Townsville are preparing for destructive winds, intense rainfall and possible flash flooding with Tropical Cyclone Kirrily forecast to strengthen as it tracks southwest towards the coast on Thursday.
Kirrily is expected to cross the coastline near Townsville as a Category 2 cyclone on Thursday night.
As of Thursday morning Kirrily has developed into a Category 1 system, sitting approximately 360 kilometres east northeast of Townsville.
It's moving at around 19 kilometres per hour.
The Aboriginal community of Bwgcolman (Palm Island), 65 kilometres north-west of Townsville, sits with the projected firing line.
A warning zone extending south from Innisfail to Sarina has been set by the Bureau of Meteorology.
"Intense rainfall which may lead to dangerous and life threatening flash flooding is possible near the track of the system, most likely with the coastal crossing during tonight and Friday," the Bom warned on Thursday.
The system is expected to ease as it crosses further inland from Friday.
Tropical #CylconeKirrily a category 1 expected to strengthen to category 2 before crossing the #Queensland coast between #Ingham & #Bowen tonight. Gales occurring over Whitsunday Islands, extend to the mainland today. Hamilton Island gusting to 102 km/h. https://t.co/cBZz3frFDu pic.twitter.com/uKHRrMeitr
— Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland (@BOM_Qld) January 24, 2024
On Wednesday, Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council asked community members to stay home and have cyclone kits ready with tinned food, batteries, torches, drinking water, medications, dry clothes and first aid.
In recent days State Disaster Coordinator Deputy Commissioner, Shane Chepely, has asked people to stay vigilant and have enough resources for 72 hours.
"We know in events like this it can take up to 72 hours before emergency services can get out and assist you," he said on Tuesday.
Cyclone shelters have been set up in Townsville with deployments of emergency services ready in the region.
On Thursday morning, Commissioner Chelepy said the next few days are critical.
"Today is the time now to stay off our roads. And take the necessary precautions to keep yourself safe. If you do not feel safe in your home, please consider moving to one of our evacuation centres or cyclone shelters," he said.
"It is safer to do this during today than this evening when we're expecting to see strong winds and rain during the hours of darkness.
"We will start to see heavy rain and wind up to 120 kilometres an hour over the next 12 hours.
"And If you need assistance in the time of emergency call 000. But if it's not life threatening, please call Policelink on 131 000 or the SES on 132 500."
Queensland Premier Steven Miles says areas further north still recovering from Christmas-time disasters, like Wujal Wujal, should not be forgotten.
As we prepare for more severe weather this week, we can't forget the Queenslanders still recovering from Jasper.
I've just been to see the progress we're making in some of Far North Queensland's remote communities like Degarra, Ayton and Wujal Wujal. pic.twitter.com/bRkhiiqztB
— Steven Miles (@StevenJMiles) January 24, 2024
Emergency Services: call 000
Policelink Queensland: call131 000
SES: call 132 500