Cyclone forming off north Queensland coast

Michael Doyle

A tropical low off the coast of north Queensland is forecast to develop into a cyclone.

Provisionally named Gretel, the system will form about 10pm on Friday and steer away from the coast, the Bureau of Meteorology's Rosa Hoff said on Thursday.

"The tropical low currently north east of Cooktown will be moving towards the southeast and intensify into tropical cyclone strength tomorrow night," she said.

Extensive damage is not expected as the cyclone will move away from land as it intensifies.

Warnings for strong winds and gales are in place from Cairns to the NSW border.

"With an active monsoon and strong winds along the coast we have seen some higher rainfall totals particularly in areas where the winds are strong," Ms Hoff said.

She said the township of Tully, about 140km south of Cairns, received 193mm in the 24 hours to 9am Thursday.