UPDATE: 'Bands of thunderstorms' Gladstone to cop effects of cyclone
UPDATE 7AM TUESDAY
QUEENSLAND ALUMINA Limited is barely visible from Barney Point, residents are driving 20km under the speed limit and the Bureau of Meteorology is predicting its only going to get worse for the Gladstone region.
The Gladstone Regional Council is urging residents to prepare for possible flooding and the isolation of some parts of the region as Tropical Cyclone Debbie tracks up the North Queensland coastline.
Cyclone Debbie's wrath of up to 190km/h winds is the reason for Gladstone's 20-25km/h winds pushing in from the coast this morning.
And the heavy consistent rainfall blanketing the region means we're definitely not out of danger just yet.
The cyclone is forecast to make landfall near Bowen today, at about 1pm, as a category four cyclone.
Gladstone Regional Council Mayor and chair of the Gladstone Local Management Disaster Group, Matt Burnett, said residents should prepare for flooding.
"The current impact on the Gladstone region will be significant rainfalls through the rest of the week," Cr Burnett said.
"With recent and predicted rainfall, there is a real risk of isolation of some communities.
"If you live in a flood prone area, please ensure that you have sufficient supplies, particularly medicines and food."
Cr Burnett reminded people not to drive in flood waters.
"We are continuing to track and monitor Cyclone Debbie and our thoughts are with North Queensland at this time," he said.
Residents are advised the Calliope River picnic area (southern side) has been closed due to expected rainfall.
It will remain closed until conditions improve. The northern side will remain open at this stage.
The Gladstone Airport, however, will remain open with no changes to flight times as of yet.
THE LATEST FROM THE BUREAU OF METEOROLOGY:
Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie continues to track west-southwest towards the Queensland coast and is expected to cross the central Queensland coast later this morning as a category 4 system.
Bands of thunderstorms are expected to develop well to the south of the cyclone and are likely to move onto the coast and adjacent inland areas between St Lawrence and Gladstone through today.
These thunderstorms may produce localised areas of destructive wind gusts in excess of 125 km/hr within the warning zone.
A Tropical Cyclone Warning is current from Lucinda to St Lawrence, including Townsville, Mackay, and the Whitsunday Islands, extending inland to Charters Towers, Mount Coolon, Moranbah, and Pentland.
Please refer to the Tropical Cyclone Track Map and Tropical Cyclone Advice for further details.
Locations which may be affected include Gladstone, Rockhampton, Yeppoon and St Lawrence.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services advises that people should:
* Move your car under cover or away from trees.
* Secure loose outdoor items.
* Seek shelter, preferably indoors and never under trees.
* Beware of fallen trees and powerlines.
* For emergency assistance contact the SES on 132 500.
The next Severe Weather Warning will be issued by 11:00 am AEST Tuesday.
Warnings are also available through TV and Radio broadcasts, the Bureau's website at www.bom.gov.au or call 1300 659 219. The Bureau and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services would appreciate warnings being broadcast regularly.
GLADSTONE looks like being in for a wet and windy night and week with the risk of river flooding despite being a long way from the action of Cyclone Debbie.
SKY News meteorologist Tristan Meyers told The Observer this evening that winds and rain could increase during the night with a real risk of flash flooding in the region.
Mr Meyers said winds could get up to 50 or 70kmh during the night with continuous showers increasing.
"Even though Gladstone isn't in the cyclone warning area you really shouldn't get complacent," he said.
"There is a flood watch out for Queensland that extends from Rollingstone to Gladstone and it is for major river floods."
The meteorologist said while conditions would worsen overnight, it could be continued rainfall over the coming days that would present the biggest danger for the Gladstone region.
He said Gladstone was generally well sheltered from the winds by the offshore islands but the rain in catchments and rivers further inland were what could prove problematic.
"One of the reasons I am so concerned about this is that although you are only getting showers at the moment, they are only going to increase in magnitude and frequency into tomorrow and really over the coming days," Mr Meyer said.
"Even after the tropical cyclone makes landfall on Tuesday, the entire central part of the Queensland coast is still in for heavy rain and very strong onshore winds.
"(It's) probably not as strong in Gladstone because you're protected with the islands just offshore but nevertheless it will still bring some pretty heavy showers and river flooding will probably develop further inland (and) flow to the coast which is generally seen in these situations
"So even though it seems the threat of the cyclone will be over by Wednesday it's really not. We have a period of pretty severe weather which will continue for the rest of the week."
Mr Meyers said the conditions would intensify from what Gladstone was experiencing right now. He said Gladstone was in for some fairly gusty winds at times, increasing in frequency tomorrow.
"For Gladstone it is probably going to be 50 and 70kmh gusts, really developing as the cyclone nears the coastline, but it should drop off significantly by Tuesday afternoon once it makes landfall," he said.
"It gets a bit complicated in the coming week we have a system further to the south which is a cold front that's going to move through.
"The action of the cold front is the trigger for widespread heavy rain for eastern Queensland, including Gladstone."
There is currently a flood watch and the potential for major river flooding.
Mr Meyer said the the worst of the river flooding was going to be to the north of Gladstone but he wouldn't be surprised to see minor to moderate river flooding in Gladstone.
For storm and flood assistance or sand bags phone the State Emergency Service (SES) on 132 500 and in a life threatening situation phone triple zero (000).