Cyclone Ingrid heads towards Queensland coast

BRISBANE - Severe tropical Cyclone Ingrid is edging closer to the north Queensland coast, with her destructive presence expected to be felt as early as tomorrow.

The wild storm system has intensified into a category five cyclone and at 7am (10am NZT) was 330km east northeast of Cooktown and moving west northwest at about 8km/h.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has issued a cyclone warning for coastal and island communities between the towns of Port Douglas and Lockhart River.

BOM said gale force winds could hit the region within 24 hours.

It warned residents to immediately prepare for the cyclone "especially protecting boats and property using available daylight hours."

A cyclone warning centre spokesman last night said there was nothing to suggest Ingrid would weaken in the immediate future.

"It's more external influences coming in that would make it weaken - a change in the upper level winds and that sort of stuff that would weaken it away and we're not seeing any of that at the moment," the spokesman said.

"It's also expected to move towards the coast at a time when tides are very high at this time of year anyway, so there could be some inundation of low-lying areas as well as a very significant rainfall and destructive winds."

The forecaster said the BOM would continue to keep a 24-hour watch on Ingrid until she no longer posed a threat to communities.

- AAP

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