Cyclone Debbie has been downgraded to category 1 as it continues to slowly move inland after unleashing its full force on Queensland's north coast.
One man was injured when a wall collapsed, numerous roofs were lifted from houses, yachts and jetties were destroyed as the storm hit Bowen and Arlie Beach when it made landfall about 1pm AEST.
As a category four cyclone, Debbie left a trail of devastation on the Whitsunday Islands with winds on Hamilton Island reaching 263km/h.
The full extent of the damage the cyclone has caused is still not known, with the full assessment by emergency services to begin on Wednesday morning.
It uprooted trees and damaged buildings as strong winds continued to lash Airlie Beach, Proserpine and Bowen, before it was downgraded to a Category 3 cyclone just after 3pm.
It was then downgraded to a category 2 about 8.30pm and then to a category 1 at about midnight.
The Bureau of Meteorology said that the warning zone overnight includes Ayr to St Lawrence including Mackay, the Witsunday Islands and extending inland to Charters Towers, Mount Coolon and Moranbah.
Sustained winds between 95km/h and 130km/h are still expected.
Cyclone Debbie is expected to further weaken overnight.
The Whitsundays' Daydream Island Resort and Spa reported "extreme" conditions with heavy rainfall and strong wind gusts causing damage to the resort and surrounds.
Resort management confirmed "every guest has been accounted for and are safe as are all our staff" in a statement.
The resort reported extensive damage to vegetation across the island with many uprooted trees; while the resort’s jetty and pontoons was significantly damaged.
The roof to the spa has lifted and the premises has also suffered water damage, while two of its three iconic mermaid statues have been swept away.
Violent winds shattered a pool fence and sent glass flying in Bowen, on the Far North Coast.
Monika Piggott captured the moment strong winds shattered nine of the 11 glass panels of her rental home.
The full extent of the damage there and on surrounding islands is still being assessed as attention turns to mainland towns including Bowen where trees are being upturned and buildings damaged.
There are fears the heart of Australia's $2 billion sugar industry may have been ripped out as Debbie hit Queensland canegrowing country in the Whitsundays, Mackay and Burdekin regions.
With harvest in eight weeks, most growers can’t get out to paddocks to check if crop can be salvaged, as snapped cane will die.
Before Debbie struck, growers were on track for a good crop and world sugar prices were strong with the best prices in five years.
Approximately 50,000 customers are without power in the Bowen, Whitsunday and Mackay areas.
"We will receive more reports of injuries, if not death," Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, a man has been badly injured by a collapsing wall in Proserpine and has been since transported to hospital.
Following the destruction of the phenomenon the Insurance Council has declared Tropical Cyclone Debbie a catastrophe, with wind gusts potentially expected to reach 270 km/h at the eye of the storm.
Thousands of residents were evacuated and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk warned Queenslanders to stay put as the cyclone continues to rage.
"She is bringing with her a whole lot of might and a whole lot of fury," the Premier said labelling the ferocious weather a one in 100 year rainfall event.
The cyclone's war path
- Debbie hit Whitsunday Islands and made landfall early on Tuesday afternoon (AEST).
- Debbie is a category three cyclone with wind gusts up to 270km/h predicted.
- The cyclone could measure up to 100km across.
- Abnormally high tides are occurring along the coast between Proserpine and Mackay.
- Man badly injured by collapsing wall in Proserpine has been taken to hospital.
- Flood warnings have been issues by BOM for several regions in north Queensland.
- Debbie is travelling at 6kms/h.
- Residents and tourists take cover as Cyclone Debbie destruction beckons
- PHOTO GALLERY: View the pictures from North Queensland as Cyclone Debbie moves in.
Significant wind gust observations
- 262 km/h at Hamilton Island airport at 10:30 am
- 165 km/h at Proserpine Airport 12:57 am
- 148 km/h at Bowen Airport at 2:24 pm
What's the advice?
Stay put, stay calm and wait for the all-clear. People in the path of Debbie should remain in a secure shelter - above the expected water level - while the very destructive winds continue. Emergency services won't be able to respond till the all-clear has been given.
An extra 25 paramedics have been sent to the area. About 600 hospital beds are available in the region. More than 800 staff from Energy Queensland are ready to help restore lost power.
The Australian Defence Force is mobilising soldiers, vehicles, aircraft and other resources to clear roads and debris.