UPDATE 8am AEST:
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says authorities are well prepared for Tropical Cyclone Debbie, which is expected to make landfall as a category 4 on Tuesday morning.. but there are worries about the preparedness of residents.
Triple M and Channel 9's Luke Bradnam is in Townsville this morning. He says it's picture perfect blue skies.
"I brought my rain jacket but I haven't needed it yet, so blues skies and still hardly a breath of breeze. It's picture perfect at the moment so what it means is a lot of people are being really complacent"
"But the way that it is at the moment, y'know that's where the saying 'the calm before the storm' comes from. This is how it was before 2011's Yasi, it looks really calm and then all of a sudden it starts.. And when it starts, it doesn't stop."
Authorities are worried many North Queenslanders are not taking Tropical Cyclone warnings seriously, as 'Debbie' moves west towards Ayr, south of Townsville.
At the moment, TC Debbie is a category 2 system.. though the weather bureau's predicting it'll be upgraded to category 4 by the time it reaches landfall on Tuesday morning.
Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Katarina Carroll says TC Debbie is set to be the worst cyclone to hit the region since Yasi in 2011.
She said locals, who have been through cyclones before, should not be complacent.
"We know north Queenslanders are very, very resilient, but certainly we do have concerns about the storm surges in those low-lying areas," she told Channel 9.
"We only have a small window of opportunity to act on these evacuations. Please, if you do get the text message to evacuate, do so."
The Whitsunday Islands are already being thrashed by strong winds, while residents at Proserpine have been warned to get ready for unusually high tides from later today.
The weather bureau forecasts the "very destructive core" of TC Debbie will bring with it wind gusts up to 260km/h. Areas on the outer of the storm will cop gusts well over 100km/h.
Dozens of schools and universities have been closed, while businesses have boarded up.
Jetstar, Virgin and Qantas have cancelled many flights in and out of Townsville, Hamilton Island and Mackay.