Tropical cyclone Kimi is moving slowly south and is expected to veer south-south-west towards the north Queensland coast today.
The warning zone for the category 1 cyclone extends from Port Douglas to Ayr and inland to Mareeba and Atherton, including Cairns and Townsville.
The latest Bureau of Meteorology advice is that the system is most likely to approach, and may cross, the coast late today or early Tuesday between about Innisfail and Lucinda.
However there remains considerable uncertainty with the crossing time and location.
In an update issued around 8am (AEST) today the bureau urged people between Port Douglas and Ayr and inland to Mareeba and Atherton to immediately commence or continue preparations, especially securing boats and property.
People between Lucinda and Ayr, including Townsville should consider what action they would need to take if the cyclone threat increased, it said.
At 7am today (January 18) cyclone Kimi was estimated to be 85km east-north-east of Cairns and 295km north of Townsville.
The system may intensify further during today and is likely to be at least at least a category 2 system as it approaches the coast.
Destructive winds with gusts to 140 km/h may develop about coastal and island areas between Innisfail and Lucinda on Monday evening or early Tuesday morning as the core of the cyclone approaches.
Heavy rainfall with the potential to produce flash flooding and major river flooding is expected to affect coastal and adjacent inland areas between Cairns and Townsville during Monday and Tuesday.