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The weather system, which is located about 1200 kilometres north-east of Cairns, is a category 4 cyclone.
The Bureau of Meteorology said the cyclone is likely to make landfall mid-to-late next week, which could put dozens of towns in the firing line between Townsville and Cooktown.
“A tropical cyclone watch may be issued as early as Sunday but this will be highly dependent on the movement and development of the system,” David Grant from the Bureau of Meteorology said.
Emergency Services Minister Mark Ryan asked residents to prepare now because cyclones can have devastating impacts on lives and properties.
“This is not a practice, this is not a drill, this is the real deal,” Ryan said.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Inspector David Welsh said there were a range of things people could do to prepare their properties.
“Any loose items in the backyard to be secured or put away,” Welsh said.
“Check roofs and gutters, make sure there are no loose tiles.”
The Bureau of Meteorology is also scrambling to evacuate four Australian meteorologists on a remote island in the Coral Sea.
The weather station is in danger of being in the cyclone’s path.