Bureau of Meteorology of Australia has announced that the Cyclone Debbie carrying winds up to 240km/hour moves towards the Queensland coast and is expected to arrive on land early on Tuesday local time.
There were as much as 3,500 residents evacuated due to the storm. However, many of them still refuse to leave despite warnings the destructive core could be as wide as 100km.
The Cyclone is expected to intensify into a Category 4 system before it arrives, while a Category 5 storm is the strongest on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of intensity.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told the media in a press conference that the storm would rival the devastating Cyclone Yasi which happened in 2011, as winds reaching up to 290km/h (181mph), ripping roofs off buildings and has cut power to at least 100,000 people.
“This window of opportunity to leave is drastically closing. I am just pleading to everyone, please, listen to authorities. I do, you must as well. This is about your safety, it is about the safety of your family and the safety of your children,” she said.
She then said that on Monday, another 2,000 residents were expected to join thousands of people who had already been evacuated from the affected area.
Ms Palaszczuk also said that there might be a power outage during the storm, saying, “Now is the time to charge your phone.”
“These winds are going to be severe and we are going to see structural damages,” she added.
Bureau of Meteorology regional director Bruce Gunn stated that the cyclone is expected to make landfall sometime after 07:00 on Tuesday (20:00 GMT Monday) anywhere in a 265km zone from Townsville to Proserpine.
“That is the uncertainty of cyclones,” he said, adding that residents must be warned that the cyclone could make landfall at high tide, bringing waves up to 8m and flooding for low-lying areas.
Police Commissioner Ian Stewart told medias that Queensland authorities have closed 102 schools, 81 early childhood education centres, and two ports.
All flights have also been cancelled at Townsville Airport and Mackay Airport.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also made a statement in Parliament, saying that the Australian Defence Force would help with the cyclone response.
“Time and time again, Australians show grace under pressure, bravery in the face of danger, and rally without a second thought to help each other. These virtues will be on display over the next few days where Australians face the worst that nature can throw at us,” he said.