HEAVY rain and flash flooding is forecast for parts of the North Queensland coast as ex-tropical cyclone Owen makes landfall later tonight.
The low was located about 130km north east of Cairns at 5pm today and was expected to cross the coast tonight or early tomorrow before moving inland to the northern interior.
The Bureau of Meteorology said heavy rain, which may lead to flash flooding, was expected to develop in coastal and adjacent inland areas between Port Douglas and Bowen tonight, and to persist into Monday.
Their forecasters said six hourly totals in excess of 150mm were possible in some areas.
Wind speeds of over 90km/h, are also possible in exposed coastal and island areas, and elevated areas in the Great Dividing Range.
The severe weather warning applies to residents in Townsville, Cairns, Palm Island, Ingham, Mareeba, Ayr, Giru, Atherton, Yarrabah, Ravenshoe, Julatten and Lucinda.
The rain has promoted the BOM to also issue a flood warning for residents between Port Douglas and Bowen, with the possibility of river levels rising above minor flood levels into early next week.
They said localised falls over excess of 200 mm have fallen across parts of the flood watch area in the last few days, which has started to wet catchments.
The catchments likely to be affected include the Mulgrave and Russell Rivers, Johnstone River, Tully River, Murray River and Herbert River.
A strong wind warning has also been issued for boaties in the Cooktown, Cairns, Townsville, and Mackay areas.
The wet weather today caused the annual carols by candlelight events to be cancelled in both Townsville and Cairns, while the Burdekin event has been moved to an indoor venue.