Cyclone Debbie turns towards coast, likely to strengthen to catergory four

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THE BUREAU of Meteorology's team of weather experts believe Cyclone Debbie will make a huge turn towards Central Queensland's coast after it wreaks havoc on a suite of towns in the Central West.

The Bureau of Meteorology predicted the cyclone to make landfall between Townsville and Proserpine on Tuesday morning.

In Airlie Beach, an area known for diving and sailing trips, emergency services handed out leaflets to tourists on Sunday, urging them to seek shelter elsewhere.

Areas from Cardwell to Bowen were in the main firing line, with winds of up to 200 kilometres per hour expected, as well as major structural damage, risky airborne debris, wide-spread power outages and flooding.

BoM said gales were expected to develop about the exposed coast and islands between Ayr and Mackay during Sunday, and could extend further south to St Lawrence on Sunday night.

Mr Lee said if the storm hit Mackay it could draw a storm surge of 1.8m, which would coincide with the 5.9m high tide.

Cyclone Debbie has slowed its movement towards the coast, which BoM has previously warned would allow the cyclone to intensify further.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will also convene the Queensland Disaster Management Committee in Brisbane on Saturday.

James Cook University has closed its campuses in Cairns, Townsville Ayr and Mackay for Monday, with Cairns expected to re-open on Tuesday.

SES director Steve Hallam said on Friday, emergency services were undertaking "a large amount of preparation" in northern Queensland, with crews checking plans, equipment and making sure everything was ready to go.

He also said to refill gas supplies, ensure yards were clear, check any loose branches and secure loose items such as trampolines and outdoor settings.

Mr Ryan said every Wednesday co-ordinators received a seven-day forecast which identifies the potential of a range of weather events in terms of scale and intensity.

Earlier today, forecaster Adam Blazak said Debbie would be severe and had to be taken seriously.

Residents would need to follow directions calmly and be prepared to leave.

"If those old houses haven't had any work done on them at all, they're the houses you would normally expect to see some wind damage occurring", he said.

"We bought a generator and the guy at the Honda store said he was getting smashed and had almost run out of stock".

Ms Hahling said she was confident the supermarket wouldn't run out of stock completely thanks to a delivery truck arriving on Saturday and another expected on Monday, but non-perishables were being snapped up and may be sold out.