COMMUNITIES in North Queensland are battening down the hatches ahead of Tropical Cyclone Kimi which has intensified to a category two storm.
Kimi is now located about 195km north of Townsville and is moving south south-east at 15km/h.
The Bureau of Meteorology said the cyclone was likely to continue this movement through tonight, but is now expected to slow and stall off the coast between Hinchinbook Island and Townsville on Tuesday while continuing to weaken.
However, considerable uncertainty remains with the future movement of the system, and a category two coastal crossing between Hinchinbrook Island and Townsville tonight or on Tuesday remains possible.
A cyclone warning is in place from Innisfail to Ayr, including Lucinda, Palm Island and Townsville while the watch zone has been extended south to Bowen.
Destructive wind gusts up to 150km/h may develop about coastal and island areas between Hinchinbrook Island and Ayr overnight tonight or on Tuesday, depending on the movement of the cyclone.
Heavy rainfall with the potential to produce flash flooding and major river flooding is expected to affect coastal and adjacent inland areas between Innisfail and Bowen tonight and on Tuesday.
Cassowary Coast Regional Council Mayor Mark Nolan urged residents to not be complacent and to stay aware of the changing conditions.
"The Local Disaster Management Team are on alert and watching as the cyclone progresses towards the North Queensland coast," Cr Nolan said.
"At this stage, we don't know what the impact will be for the Cassowary Coast region, however council is taking steps to prepare the region for the potential impact.
"We encourage residents to take this time to make preparations for possible strong winds and heavy rain, which may lead to flooding."
In Townsville, council has made sand and sand bags available to residents at five locations.
These include 14 Forestry Road, Bluewater; Corner of Mount Low Parkway and Bruce Highway, the Upper Ross PCYC at Rasmussen, the council depot at Garbutt and behind Officeworks at Hermit Park.
Further south, the Burdekin Local Disaster Management Group moved to 'alert' and residents were encouraged to prepare.