Cyclone Marcia is now likely to be a category 5 storm when it hits the Queensland coast early on Friday.
The severe tropical storm has rapidly intensified throughout Thursday. On Thursday night it was upgraded to a category 4 cyclone, with forecasters predicting it will further intensify to a category 5 – the highest level rating – by the time it crosses the coastline at about 3am on Friday.
At 8pm (Queensland) on Thursday evening Cyclone Marcia was about 140kms east-north-east of Mackay, moving south-west at 13kmph. It is expected to make landfall between Mackay and Gladstone and then track further south.
Residents right along the Queensland coast, from Mackay to the NSW border, are being urged to remain indoors and keep up-to-date with official advice. Heavy rains and flooding are expected to cause widespread damage.
A category 5 cyclone corresponds to the highest level on the Beaufort hurricane scale, Beaufort 12. Highly destructive winds may reach speeds in excess of 280kph.
Meanwhile, another severe tropical storm, Cyclone Lam, is bearing down on Australia’s Northern Territory. Currently a category 3 and likely to become a category 4, it is likewise due to make landfall on Friday morning.