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11.00EST Warnings get more serious, extend along 580km of QLD coast
The warning that Tropical Cyclone Debbie will come ashore at Category 4, and possibly Category 5, intensity on Tuesday morning has changed little, but some of its more serious ramifications are now being felt by all residents along the 580km-long stretch of coastline and nearby inland areas.
At 07.00EST, Debbie was 390 kilometres east of Townsville and 270 kilometres east northeast of Bowen, and was expected to cross the coast between Townsville and Proserpine around 07.00EST tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. The Warning area, meaning gales are happening or expected to begin within the next 24 hours, now extends from Cardwell in the north to St Lawrence in the south and Charters Towers in the west. It includes Ingham, Townsville, Ayr, Bowen, Proserpine and Mackay, and also Collinsville SW of Bowen and the Whitsunday Islands and Hamilton Island.
The Watch area (gales starting from tomorrow morning) extends beyond Charters Towers to Pentland in the west and Mt Coolon in the south. Because of the size and potency of the cyclone, even areas well beyond the coastal crossing point can expect damaging or destructive Category 1 to 3 intensity winds of up to 200km/h or more.
Winds potentially gusting to 300km/h are causing considerable concern to authorities, as they threaten to demolish buildings built before the stronger 1985 building codes came into existence. The QLD Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk said it is the first time a category four cyclone had hit the region. "We are concerned about a number of vulnerable people, so elderly people with a disability, who are living in those pre-1985 homes around Ayr and Home Hill," she said. "The old homes will not sustain the impact. We are asking neighbours to check on friends and relatives."
"You're going to see people without power for some time, large trees down, roofs damaged," meteorologist Adam Blazak told ABC News. "You want to be inside. You're going to see large flying debris. Obviously caravans don't usually stand a chance. You usually see them completely destroyed."
ABC News also reports there is growing concern about a storm surge which could be as high as two to four metres. This concern is driving widespread forced evacuations from low-lying parts of the Whitsunday Islands, Burdekin Shire and areas of southern Townsville. Some people are reported not to be leaving. "The don't understand the severity. This is a major cyclone. We haven't seen a cyclone like this", said Burdekin Shire Mayor Lyn McLaughlin. "People who stay, they stay at their own risk. They are given notice that once the winds get to 100 kilometres no-one is going to come to their assistance." However, authorities underline that while you can shelter from wind in your house, you cannot shelter from inundation by the sea.