Cyclone Debbie as it moves across the Coral Sea over the North Queensland coast.
Cyclone Debbie as it moves across the Coral Sea over the North Queensland coast. Weatherzone Forums

Coast disaster teams prepare for Cyclone Debbie drenching

WHAT WE KNOW

  • Cyclone Debbie (Category 4) is due to strike land about 1pm
  • A 'Warning Zone' is in place for Lucinda to St Lawrence, including the Mackay and Whitsunday regions
  • Up to 25,000 Mackay residents encouraged to evacuate
  • Thousands have been evacuated from Whitsundays
  • The Bureau has labelled Debbie the most significant cyclone to hit Queensland since Category 5 Cyclone Yasi in 2011
  • More than 20,000 without power through Mackay, Whitsundays.

FOLLOW THE CYCLONE DEBBIE TOPIC FOR THE LATEST

LOCAL government maintenance crews continue to clear gutters and storm water drains as the Sunshine Coast prepares to feel the effects of Tropical Cyclone Debbie which will hit this region on Thursday and Friday.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster David Crock said falls well in excess of 100mm remained possible particularly on Friday when the tropical low is expected to come into conflict with a strong southerly change.

He said Debbie would retain cyclone status for at least 24 hours after it crosses land because of the sheer size of the system.

"A low will sit over the Central Highlands on Thursday bringing a lot of moisture and heavy showers onto the coast," Mr Crock said.

"There will be heavy showers on the Sunshine Coast on Friday as the decaying low comes into south east Queensland.

"If it hangs around for a few days we are going to see big totals."

Mr Crock said against expectations Cyclone Debbie had not sped up as it got closer to the coast off the Whitsundays delaying its landfall by several hours past earlier estimates.

He said it was expected the system would now continue to move slowly over land and as a consequence quite high rainfall totals were likely.

Earlier track models had the low from Cyclone Debbie passing directly over the Sunshine Coast and back out to sea where ocean surface temperatures remain above 28 degrees.

However its now more southerly line estimates the system will cross back over the ocean in NSW where surface temperatures are too low and other conditions unsuitable for a cyclone to reform.

Noosa Local Disaster Management Centre head Alan Rogers said rosters were being prepared to handle the clean up of any flooding on the northern Sunshine Coast but for now the centre remained in a "watch and wait" readiness.

"We are certainly watching it," Mr Rogers said.

WEATHER ALERTS: Get real-time alerts on Sunshine Coast weather by clicking here and then FOLLOW TOPIC

He said interest remained firmly on what happened when the southerly hits on Friday.

The BOM expects a 30 degree maximum on the Sunshine Coast today with the chance of showers with winds remaining light through the rest of the day.

Wednesday will hit a 29 degree maximum with light winds early turning easterly at 15-20kmh before dropping out late in the day. There is a chance of a thunderstorm and up to 20mm of rain.

Thursday will see the effects of Cyclone Debbie start to impact with falls of up to 45mm and possibly higher on a day when light winds early will shift northerly at 15-20 kph. The temperature maximum will hit 29 degrees.

SPECIAL COVERAGE:

Friday the BOM has a forecast rainfall range between 30-100mm totals that could be much higher depending on what happens when the anticipated strong southerly change hits the weakening low pressure system from Cyclone Debbie.

Thunderstorms are expected with winds to be north north east early at 15-20kmh before swinging right around to the south south east at 25-35kmh.

Those southerly winds will be sustained on Saturday at 25-35kmh on a showery day that could see some heavy falls.


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