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Queensland braces for nasty cyclone Debbie, evacuations ordered

Staff Writer |
Thousands of residents in Queensland, northeastern Australia have been ordered to leave their homes as severe tropical cyclone Debbie approaches, bringing with it powerful winds and heavy rain.

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The storm is set to intensify from a category three to category four cyclone before it makes landfall near the town of Ayr on Tuesday morning local time (late Monday ET).

Cyclone Debbie is forecast to pack gusts of up to 150 mph (240 kph), as well as flash flooding and storm surges as high as four meters.

Based on predicted sustained wind speeds, Debbie will be equivalent to a category three Atlantic hurricane when it reaches land, according to CNN meteorologist Michael Guy.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Monday morning that 3,500 residents had already been evacuated.

A further 2,000 people have been ordered to evacuate in the Bowen area, as the cyclone has tracked further south than originally predicted, she added.

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