A looming cyclone off the coast of far north Queensland is expected to cause havoc on the high seas with strong wind and gale warnings expected over the next few days.
Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Shane Kennedy said a tropical cyclone was likely to form in the Coral Sea on Friday and the fall-out included a massive deluge and wind and flood warnings from Cape York to Mackay.
"The tropical low in the Gulf of Carpentaria is expected to move east and pop out to the Coral Sea by Thursday with a high chance of developing into a tropical cyclone from Friday," Mr Kennedy said.
"From Thursday we are likely to see strong wind warnings across the majority of the east coast and potentially gale warnings from late on Thursday into Friday but at this stage, gales are likely to remain just offshore.
"Any tropical cyclone is likely to move southeast fairly quickly, so at this stage, it appears that it's likely to move far enough offshore by Friday to draw heavy rainfall off the coast by late Friday and over the weekend."
Up to 300mm of rain is expected on the Cassowary Coast region alone in the next 48 hours, Mr Kennedy said.
Daily rainfalls of up to 150mm are expected in Cairns and 100mm in Townsville but the Cassowary Coast - which includes towns such as Innisfail, Cardwell and Tully - will feel the brunt of it.