Cyclone Owen intensifies, could reach category 4 today
CYCLONE Owen is quickly intensifying from a category 3 system to an expected category 4 system later today.
Currently passing through the Gulf Of Carpentaria coastline between Port roper and Bing Bong, the cyclone's destructive wins are likely to produce gusts of up to 205km/h near its centre.
After "u-turning" overnight, the severe system intensified to Category 3 on Thursday morning and was forecast to upgrade to category 4 on Thursday night or Friday morning.
Sky News chief meteorologist Tom Saunders said the cyclone would reach Cape York on Friday, before Making its way down the east coast, similar to Cyclone Oswald in 2013.
"It will be hitting the west coast of Cape York Friday, and from there, it'll make a slight right turn and move parallel to the east coast over weekend," he said.
The exact path Cyclone Owen is expected to track is not yet confirmed, but Mr Saunders said a predicted path directly over Mackay was a "high probability".
"If it moves directly down the Queensland coast, there would be 24 hour totals up around the 1-200mm mark," he said.
"If (Mackay is) directly under the path of the system, it (could see) 200mm of rain, but it should be moving quickly.
"Late Saturday into early Sunday will see the heaviest rain."
While the system is expected to be downgraded from a category 1 storm to a tropical low as it makes its way south from northern Queensland, Mr Saunders said Mackay could still expect winds in the vicinity of 90km and higher.
Although strong, Mr Saunders said Mackay should be spared major wind damage.
"It would be downgraded to a tropical low, but that can still bring winds in the vicinity of 100km/h," he said.
"Winds over 90km are strong enough to cause some damage, but you don't get property damage with wind alone."
Mr Saunders said property damage could still be a possibility, with winds strong enough to cause fallen trees and similar.
Weather is expected to clear up rapidly on Monday.