Pic credit: WindyTv.com
Tropical Cyclone Debbie has now been upgraded to a Category 3 system.
The weather bureau's warning those in the Townsville region to expect gale force winds worse than those they copped in Yasi, back in 2011.
Debbie is expected to intensify further, to a category 4, before making landfall between 8 and 10 on Tuesday morning.
"It is possible the crossing area could be anywhere between Townsville and Proserpine. That is the uncertainty of cyclones," Bureau of Meteorology regional director Bruce Gunn said.
Thousands of people have now been evacuated, while many of the region's roads have been closed as a precaution.
It comes as Queensland Police confirm the death toll from the weather event is already at one.
Commissioner Ian Stewart says a tourist died after a two-vehicle collision in the windswept Whitsundays.
THE SITUATION WITH CYCLONE DEBBIE
Where is she?
At 11am (AEST) on Monday the Bureau of Meteorology indicated Debbie was about 375km east of Townsville and 250km east northeast of Bowen.
Where's she heading?
Debbie is moving south-southwest at 7km/h towards the north Queensland coast with a forecast landfall south of Bowen on Tuesday morning.
What's the advice?
About 3500 residents from Home Hill to Proserpine have been evacuated and 2000 residents in Bowen will be asked to leave. Buses are running from Home Hill and Ayr to Cairns. Shelters are open in Bowen and Proserpine and can accommodate up to 700 people. Other areas are being advised to evacuate voluntarily. People outside the immediate path of the cyclone are being advised to consider what action to take if the situation changes.
What are emergency services doing?
An extra 25 paramedics have been deployed to the area. About 600 hospital beds are available in the region. More than 800 staff from Energy Queensland are ready to help restore lost power.
What will be affected?
Bowen produces 95 per cent of Australia's fresh capsicums and 90 per cent of Australia's tomatoes for consumption during September and October. Other commodities grown in the region include beans, corn, melons, mangoes and pumpkin.