Cyclone Ita has hit far north Queensland’s coast with wind speeds of more than 200 kilometres an hour.
The category four cyclone’s eye crossed Cape Flattery, more than 300km north of Cairns, around 9pm and will gradually track southwards.
Hundreds of residents across the coast have hunkered down at cyclone shelters.
The cyclone is crossing the coast near Cape Flattery with destructive winds of 230 kilometres per hour near the core.
Gales extend 185 kilometres from the centre and powerful wind gusts of more than 125km/hr are expected to develop between Cape Melville and Cooktown and reach as far south as Port Douglas by Saturday morning.
There’s a possibility that Ita could track south close to the coast, bringing wind gusts of 150km/hr to Cairns on Saturday.
Coastal residents between Cape Flattery and Cape Tribulation, including Cooktown, are being warned of the dangerous storm tide.
“The sea is likely to rise steadily up to a level which will be significantly above the normal tide, with damaging waves, strong currents and flooding of low-lying areas extending some way inland,” the bureau says.
At least one roof has been torn from a house in Cooktown, which is being battered by strong gales and heavy rain.
Cooktown Mayor Peter Scott says winds up to 125km/h are “roaring” though the small town.
“Here’s hoping we don’t see any more damage,” he said.
The power has been cut and about 320 people are gathered in the town’s cyclone shelter, while some have taken refuge in local pubs. – AAP