Cyclone Trevor has slammed into the north Queensland coast with ferocious winds of more than 200km/h that are ripping trees from the ground.
The powerful category three storm made "howling" landfall at 5pm on Tuesday just south of Lockhart River, one of a handful of towns on the Cape York Peninsula that has been urged to remain indoors until the storm passes.
"It's howling out there," said Lockhart River Mayor Wayne Butcher told AAP just as the storm bore down on the town.
"There is a lot of trees going down around the place, there's been a few trees landing on buildings already and we've got another few hours of strong winds.
"Hopefully everyone stays indoors and we don't get any distress calls."
Just before 8.30pm, Mr Butcher said the storm was "still roaring, it hasn't stopped".
"Especially now that it's dark and we can't see anything, it's a bit nerve wracking, all we can hear is the wind whistling," he told AAP.
The storm went through a smaller scale "wobble" which led to it becoming fairly slow moving when it was right on the coast, a Bureau of Meteorology spokesman told AAP.
At 8.30pm, more than three hours after it reached the coast, it hadn't fully crossed the coast, he said.
The bureau forecasts the storm will weaken as it crosses the Cape York Peninsula and moves into the Gulf of Carpentaria.
But it is expected to re-intensify as it heads towards the Northern Territory.
Businesses, schools and roads are closed throughout the area and the State Emergency Services has deployed crews in towns likely to be affected by the storm's wide path.
Heavy rains are likely to cause many areas to flood with particular warnings for the Daintree and Mossman Rivers.
There is also a flooding risk from Innisfail to Kowanyama.
Police Far North District Chief Superintendent Brian Huxley urged residents to take care in water after the storm passes - alluding to crocodiles and other "wildlife" which may be lurking beneath the surface.
"In particular, things that people might not ordinarily think of such as wildlife which gets displaced, we have all sorts of wildlife up here that we need to be weary of," Chief Supt Huxley said.
He said that on Wednesday morning people would probably start looking to move around and it was very important they took care.
Emergency services will be heading out once the danger has passed and it is safe to do so, a Queensland Police spokesman told AAP on Tuesday night.
Locals throughout the area said they were well prepared, as usual for the cyclone season that runs from November to April.
Lockhart's Cr Butcher said they expected to experience the full brunt of the cyclone's fury for up to five hours..
"We're looking at five of six hours of destructive winds and (that) should ease after that after the eye has crossed and gone inland," Cr Butcher told AAP.
Mapoon and Aurukun could also be hit.
The storm will cause abnormally high tides along the coast north of Port Douglas, with some remote and sparsely populated regions predicted to receive up to 400mm of rain in a 24 hour period.
Warnings are in place for Orford Ness to Cape Flattery, extending across the Cape York Peninsula to Pormpuraaw and Mapoon, including Weipa and Coen.
Australian Associated Press