Queensland on emergency footing as cyclone bears down

A severe cyclone expected to hit Queensland on Friday could spark flooding and landslides in parts of the state.

Queensland is still recovering from its recent bushfire crisis but is once again on emergency footing as Cyclone Owen builds in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

The category three storm is expected to grow into a destructive category four before it crosses the Queensland coast on Friday.

The latest forecasts having it hitting land on the west coast of Cape York Peninsula, south of Kowanyama.

Cape communities in the firing line are braced for winds that could peak at about 280kmh.

Authorities are taking no chances and have already evacuated some medically vulnerable residents from the danger zone.

After crossing the peninsula, Owen is expected to head south, bringing rain that could cause flash flooding to Queensland's east coast.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says authorities are worried about heavy rain in central Queensland, where landscapes have been destroyed by recent bushfires. Eungella, inland from Mackay, is of particular concern.

"Once you have bushfires through an area, with large amounts of rain, there is then the potential for landslides," she told reporters.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Ricahrd Wardle said there was a risk of storms "embedded in cyclones" and Queenslanders must keep themselves informed.

He said an upper trough in the west of the state was also going to generate extreme weather over the state's parched southern interior over the next few days.

"Some of those thunderstorms will be severe," he said.

While decent rain was expected, he stopped short of calling it drought breaking.

The cyclone could drop up to 400mm of rain in Queensland's far north, and authorities are keeping a close watch on river catchments in the region.

In the southeast, falls of about 100mm are expected.

"Certainly a lot of Queensland will be impacted by rain in the next couple of days, either in the north with Owen, or in the southern interior and southeast with thunderstorms," Mr Wardle said.

Queensland's disaster coordination centre has been activated and the state's disaster management committee will continue to meet as the cyclone nears.

Extra rescue and emergency crews have been sent into the cyclone warning area, and the premier says she's happy with preparations.

Police have warned holidaymakers heading for coastal destinations to be aware of the wild weather to come.

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