Cyclone Debbie hammers Queensland | video, photos

  • Hamilton Island buffeted by 263km/h winds
  • Cyclone Debbie expected to cross the coast near Bowen about 2pm
  • Locals take shelter in a gold mine
  • International Space Station captures cyclone
  • Note: Time references in the posts are in AEST

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5.10pm: Cyclone Debbie has been downgraded to a category three storm, with sustained of 155km/h but wind gusts up to 220km/h.

It is currently estimated to be 45km southeast of Bowen and 10 km northwest of Proserpine. Moving southwest at 13km/h

The second eye wall of Cyclone Debbie is pounding an already badly damaged Airlie Beach area again, forcing everyone inside.

Television footage showed trees snapped and covering roads, roofs off homes and power poles lurching to the side, power lines drooping or flapping loosely.

4.10pm: A man has been badly hurt by a collapsing wall in Prosperine, 100 kilometres north of Mackay, as Cyclone Debbie batters the north Queensland coast, Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart has confirmed.

"That person has been taken to hospital in Prosperine, through the great work of all the emergency services including ambulance, police and SES," he said.

"We don't know the condition of that person at this time. I think what we need to brace for, this is a very destructive storm and storm system and I think the public and the community of Queensland need to understand that we are going to get lots of reports of damage and, sadly, I think that we will also receive more reports of injuries, if not death. We need to be prepared for that."

2.25pm: A bodyboarder has been spotted jumping into raging surf as the eye of the storm passes over Airlie Beach.

The move immediately drew condemnation online and from Nine News presenter Karl Stefanovic, who urged a reporter to "dob in" the man.

"That is not smart and those guys will get into trouble with the back end of that storm," he said.

While conditions were calm in the tourist hotspot at the time, the other side of the eye wall is beginning to hit already.

"That is obviously not a good idea, at all," reporter Jessica Millward said.

"But there is a lot of backpackers in town, Karl. I can tell you there has been a lot of cyclone parties throughout the evening and this morning. A fair few inebriated people."

3.50pm: Cyclone Debbie continues to move inland, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, with the weather bureau's Bowen radar knocked out of action.

As of 2pm, the system was estimated to be 45 kilometres south-east of Bowen and 15 kilometres north of Proserpine.

The bureau said the cyclone was forecast to move slowly south-west over the next 12 to 18 hours before heading south over inland Queensland.

It added that as the system moved inland, the peak winds near the centre would begin to weaken rapidly and it revised wind-speed predictions from 270km/h to 230km/h.

This downgrade means the chance of the system being classified any higher than a category 4 are all but gone.

1.25pm: The edge of Cyclone Debbie's eye has arrived over Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays about midday.

However, the Bureau of Meteorology advises it won't officially declare the cyclone as having made landfall until at least half of the eye has crossed the coast.

Noon: Cyclone Debbie is edging closer and closer towards the north Queensland coast, but the weather bureau now says the system won't reach the mainland until this afternoon.

The Bureau of Meteorology recently issued an update stating the main body of the cyclone was about 75 kilometres east of Bowen and on-track to make landfall between about Cape Upstart, south of Ayr, and Airlie Beach, in the Whitsundays, about 2pm AEST.

Hamilton Island has recorded winds gust of 263km/h.

The eye wall of the system was beginning to reach the coast, with Bowen and Proserpine receiving more than 20mm in 90 minutes

11am: “Carnage” is how Airlie Beach resident Adrian Pelt is describing the scene outside his home at the moment.

The yacht charter business owner said the storm was still building and winds were close to 200kmh as the full effect of TC Debbie began to be felt.

Communicating with his wife Suzette in Tasmania, Adrian described the sound of the cyclone as “like a freight train”.

Suzette said reports from friends overlooking the waterfront were that it was looking like high tide at 8am, even though the 3.74m tide is expected to peak at 10.40am.

The couple have cyclone nets strung up the full length of their home to catch flying debris, and Suzette said the latest news was that big trees were snapping and branches flying everywhere.

“Branches are crashing on the roof, and there are many more hours to go,” she said.

Adrian and Suzette have had just shy of 40 years of experience with hurricanes and cyclones, including two direct hits and multiple times in warning zones.

EARLIER TUESDAY: Powerful wind gusts with speeds of up to 178 kilometres per hour have already battered Hamilton Island as tropical Cyclone Debbie gathered intensity and hurtled toward's Queensland's northern coast.

@dannarthur: Starting to get a bit hectic now

@dannarthur: Starting to get a bit hectic now

In a statement issued at 3am, the Bureau of Meteorology said the "very destructive core" of the powerful storm is now starting to impact the Whitsunday Islands.

The centre of the system is forecast to cross the coast between Ayr and Midge Point later this morning with wind gusts potentially to 260 km/h.

The Bureau also warned of possible large waves along the sea front and forecast the sea would rise "to a level well above the normal tide, with damaging waves and flooding of some low-lying areas close to the shoreline," in an update issued at 2am, and said heavy rain could lead to flash-flooding around the Central Coast and Whitsundays.

The centre of the system is forecast to cross the coast between Ayr and Midge Point later this morning with wind gusts potentially to 260 km/h.

The Bureau also warned of possible large waves along the sea front and forecast the sea would rise "to a level well above the normal tide, with damaging waves and flooding of some low-lying areas close to the shoreline," in an update issued at 2am, and said heavy rain could lead to flash-flooding around the Central Coast and Whitsundays.

The powerful tempest, which was upgraded to a category 4 storm on Monday evening, has prompted calls for tens of thousands of Queenslanders to evacuate.

Ayr, Bowen, Airlie Beach and Townsville were likely to be in the firing line with Debbie already approaching the Whitsundays.

Queensland's ambulance service urged residents to seek shelter in the centre of their homes, the "strongest part of the building," and disconnect their electrical appliances.

"If the building starts to break up, protect yourself with mattresses, rugs etc under strong table or hold onto a solid fixture," Queensland Ambulance said on Twitter.

The Ayr main street is empty as residents brace for Cyclone Debbie. Photo: Jorge Branco

The Ayr main street is empty as residents brace for Cyclone Debbie. Photo: Jorge Branco