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Cyclone Ita: 'don't get caught out'

More than 9000 people will be "directly impacted" by cyclone Ita when it crosses the north Queensland coast on Friday night.

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Cyclone Ita is expected to cross the Queensland coast on Friday night, the Bureau of Meteorology says, with destructive winds set to impact areas more than 200 kilometres away from the eye of the storm.

The cyclone is predicted to intensify to a category 4 storm by the time it crosses the coast between Cape Flattery and Lockhart in the state's far north, with the bureau warning it "poses a significant threat" to communities in the area.

A cyclone warning has been issued for coastal areas from Cape Grenville to Cape Tribulation, while a cyclone watch also remains in place from Cape Tribulation to Cairns, extending up to 200 kilometres inland to areas including Kalinga, Laura, Palmerville and Chillagoe.

Emergency services in Cooktown brace for Ita.

Emergency services in Cooktown brace for Ita. Photo: Ten News

Cyclone Ita has been touted as potentially the most powerful storm since Yasi, and is currently a category 3 storm less than 580 kilometres from Cooktown.

Wind gusts of up to 200km/h were occurring near the centre of the storm.

Cooktown mayor Peter Scott said the town was bracing for the storm, and there was "a real worry" about the damage it could cause.

A satellite image showing cyclone Ita bearing down on north Queensland.

A satellite image showing cyclone Ita bearing down on north Queensland. Photo: Weatherzone

"I've been here 20 years and always we get these cyclones flying past...but this one is coming straight for us and is going to cross the coast as a high level category 4 and perhaps category 5," he said.

People are starting to take it very seriously," he said.

Cr Scott said the town was prepared with plenty of fuel and food, and the local cyclone shelter would open on Thursday.

"It holds 1000 people and is less than three years old. But we wanted people to view that as a last resort," he said.

On Wednesday, emergency services asked residents between Cape Grenville and Cairns to finalise preparations.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services northern regional director Wayne Coutts said residents had a limited timeframe to ensure their homes and families were ready.

"Prepare your family by ensuring your emergency kit is well stocked with essential supplies including food, water, warm clothes, medications, first aid supplies, important documents, valuables and sleeping gear," he said.

"Get your property ready by bringing loose outdoor items indoors and securing all items, which can't be brought in, such as swing sets and trampolines.

"If your windows are fitted with shutters, ensure these are closed securely. If not, tape your windows in a criss-crossing fashion, using strong packing tape. This may not prevent windows from shattering but will hold the broken glass in place.

"Secure boats and move all vehicles and bicycles under cover and bring children and pets indoors. When the weather system approaches remain inside until further advice is given."

Water and Energy Minister Mark McArdle said Ergon Energy crews had been placed on alert for what was potentially the most powerful cyclone to threaten Queensland in three years.

"Standard preparations and checks have been under way this week for Ergon operations in northern parts of the state and the emergency management plan has now been activated," Mr McArdle said.

Mr McArdle said while the electricity grid ended at Hope Vale, north of Cooktown, Ergon also operated eight isolated generation-based networks on the Cape York Peninsula.

"Pre-cyclone season preparations have ensured these areas have sufficient fuel and back up," he said.

Residents between Cape Tribulation and Cape Sidmouth are also being warned of damaging storm tides.

"The sea is likely to rise steadily up to a level which will be significantly above the normal tide, with damaging waves, strong currents and flooding of low-lying areas extending some way inland," the bureau said.

Meanwhile, Premier Campbell Newman has cut short a trade mission to east Asia to oversee preparations for the cyclone's arrival.