An emergency storm tide alert has been issued for parts of Townsville's waterfront as an extensive storm bears down on north Queensland.

There is a cyclone warning current for every town and city between Port Douglas and Mackay as the huge tropical low barrels towards the coast.

The system, about 590km northeast of Townsville, is forecast to form into a cyclone before it makes landfall tomorrow.

The Bureau of Meteorology is warning people to batten down as the storm is likely to bring heavy rain and a dangerous storm surge and pack winds of up to 120km/h.


A king tide as high as 4.12m is forecast to hit the coast on the same morning the storm reaches land.

Yesterday an emergency storm tide alert was issued for parts of Townsville.

The council has released a map of a Red Zone where people are likely to be affected by the storm surge.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Lee Johnson urged people living in the zones to prepare their properties and listen to advice from authorities.

"Whilst the advice from the bureau this time is that it will be a low category if it does form, we're still going to get very, very strong winds, certainly flooding rains and on the coast damaging wave action," he told reporters.

The weather bureau also urged coastal residents to prepare for a dangerous storm tide tomorrow morning.

"People living in areas likely to be affected by this flooding should take measures to protect their property as much as possible and be prepared to help their neighbours," the forecaster said.