TROPICAL Cyclone Iris is expected to intensify into a category three by Wednesday as it continues to move along the Queensland coast.

Forecasters predict the weather system will strengthen into the early hours of tomorrow morning, bringing destructive winds and heavy rain to parts of the state.

But Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Katarina Carroll says it could intensify into a category three cyclone as early as this afternoon.

"Certainly later today and tomorrow will be our big problematic days where there will be a lot of wind and a lot of rain," she told the Nine Network.

A cyclone warning has been issued for the area between Ayr and Mackay, with gale force winds and heavy rain predicted. A watch zone is in place from Mackay to St Lawrence.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Dean Narramore said Tropical Cyclone Iris was located about 280km northeast of Townsville.

It will likely move southeast along the Queensland coast tomorrow but it is not expected to make landfall.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says she is happy with emergency preparations. Picture: Annette Dew
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says she is happy with emergency preparations. Picture: Annette Dew

Mr Narramore said it should start to weaken again from Thursday.

The cyclone 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.

Iris's impact will be felt across areas already saturated from rain delivered on its first sweep along the Queensland coast, and then from Cyclone Nora.

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.

Iris was not expected to affect the upcoming Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast or the associated royal visit by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.



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