JUST when you thought you'd heard the last of Iris - it roared back to life.

Yesterday, the zombie-like storm front strengthened to cyclone strength along the Queensland coast and is tipped to bring wild weather, including gale force winds and heavy rain, to many parts of the state today.

Whitsunday and Mackay residents and tourists are now in the firing line of category two tropical cyclone and have been told to consider leaving now as the unpredictable weather system circles off the coast.

Queensland Deputy Police Commissioner Bob Gee said Tuesday was the day for people to decide if they were going to stay or leave.

"But that is a voluntary decision," he said. "It is a very unclear picture in terms of where the cyclone is going to move."

Mr Gee assured residents there would be enough emergency personnel available if the event reached disaster level, despite the fact extra resources have been allocated to the Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games.

By around midday yesterday it had formed into a Category 1 storm while it was 310km east of Cairns and 330km northeast of Townsville.

Now it is expected to intensify into a category three by Wednesday as it continues to move along the Queensland coast and the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has issued a warning for parts of the Lower Burdekin, Central Coast and Whitsunday Islands. However, the cyclone is not expected to make landfall.

Gale-force winds have been predicted from Ayr to Mackay, including the Whitsundays, with a watch zone issued for residents from Mackay to St Lawrence further south.

"Tropical cyclone Iris has continued to intensify while moving slowly south overnight and is now a Category 2 cyclone," BoM said early on Tuesday. "Iris is expected to continue moving slowly to the south through most of today while continuing to intensify, before curving more to the southeast, parallel to the Queensland coast, on Wednesday.

"At this stage, the cyclone is not expected to cross the Queensland coast but may approach the coast close enough to produce significant impacts."

The warning comes after Iris was forecast to begin moving away from the northern Queensland coast with heavy rain and damaging winds.

The storm intensified back to cyclone strength on Monday morning, prompting authorities to move rescue crews and SES members into place ahead of another expected drenching.

A severe weather warning was also issued between Townsville and Mackay. Iris' impact will be felt across areas already saturated from rain delivered on its first sweep along the Queensland coast, and then from Cyclone Nora.

The Bureau of Meteorology forecast heavy rain, up to 200mm, to start falling from Monday evening, while winds gusting at up to 100km/h were also expected to be felt from late on Monday and into Tuesday.

Ahead of the latest patch of nasty weather, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was comfortable with preparations by authorities and urged people to take care on the roads.


The Commonwealth Games will not be affected. Picture: AAP Image/Dave Hunt
The Commonwealth Games will not be affected. Picture: AAP Image/Dave Hunt

Iris was not expected to affect the upcoming Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast or the associated royal visit.

Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson said residents were ready for the latest threat.

"We've been through it - we have the experience as a community, so don't get complacent," he told Channel Nine.

Extra swift-water rescue crews and flood boat operators have been sent into all major towns and cities that are expected to feel the effects of the cyclone.

- With AAP

Race to track travellers linked to ‘superspreader’

Premium Content Race to track travellers linked to ‘superspreader’

Explained: Race to track travellers linked to ‘superspreader’

University holds first on campus orientation since pandemic

Premium Content University holds first on campus orientation since pandemic

Bundaberg’s CQUniversity campus welcomed for the first on campus O Week since the...

TOP MARKS: How school switched to 100% green energy

Premium Content TOP MARKS: How school switched to 100% green energy

The solar farm almost has the capacity to power an entire suburb. Read more about...