It was upgraded at 7pm EST and was estimated to be 185 km east northeast of Townsville and 225 km north of Proserpine and moving south southwest at 12 km/h towards the coast, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

Dylan is already packing winds of 120 km/h.

“The big threat is going to be from flooding and my single most important message today is that people who need to travel, need to do it now and try to get it out of the way as soon as possible,” said Queensland Premier Campbell Newman who was in Townsville on Thursday to oversee cyclone preparations.

The Bureau of Meteorology is warning residents to prepare for damaging wind gusts, heavy rain, which may cause flash flooding, and damaging waves from a dangerous storm tide.

Cyclone Dylan is expected to come ashore at about 4am EST on Friday between Townsville and Bowen but its impact will stretch south as far Gladstone in central Queensland. A map showing the track of the cyclone is available here.

Image credit: Getty