North Queenslanders are battening down the hatches, as an unpredictable tropical cyclone strengthens to a category two and shifts direction a second time.
The Bureau of Meteorology said Cyclone Kimi was barrelling south about 175km north of Townsville about 4pm AEST on Monday.
While gathering strength throughout the day it was expected to start weakening overnight or on Tuesday and maybe not cross the coast.
“But of course, cyclones are unpredictable, so it is still likely she could cross the coast sometime somewhere between Innisfail and Bowen,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters.
Whatever Kimi does, forecasters warn the weather system it’s likely to pack winds up to 130km/h, with heavy rain and flash flooding possible.
“Considerable uncertainty remains with the future movement of the system and a category two coastal crossing between Hinchinbrook Island and Townsville tonight or on Tuesday remains possible,” the bureau said in an alert.
Residents from Innisfail to Bowen, including Townsville, have also been told to prepare for abnormally high tides.
Ms Palaszczuk urged people to listen carefully for updates on where the cyclone moves.
“Everybody in the north … should be listening to the media reports very, very closely because the bureau will be giving those reports every three hours, and we’ll be giving a further update from the state government this afternoon,” she said.
People between Innisfail and Ayr are also being urged to secure boats and homes in particular.
“I know we’re Queenslanders, I know we go through cyclones every single year but please do not be complacent,” Police Minister Mark Ryan said.
“There is something predictable about cyclones and that is the damage and the risk they bring.”
The bureau also warns that heavy rainfall could bring flash flooding and major river flooding to coastal and hinterland areas between Innisfail and Ayr on Monday and Tuesday.
A flood watch was issued for waterways including the Tully, Thomson, Cooper, Diamantina, Georgina, Norman and Gilbert rivers, as well as Eyre Creek.
“So if you’re in those areas you need to prepare … if it’s flooded forget it, have a plan about where you’ll be travelling, bear in mind where those river catchments are, be aware that during this event you could have flash flooding,” he said.
Parts of the Wooroonooran, Girramay and Paluma Range national parks, and Abergowrie State Forest have been closed.
With the cyclone set to dump rain on large parts of Queensland’s interior, flood warnings have also been issued for a number of inland rivers.