A powerful cyclone moved slowly onshore northeastern Australia Tuesday as authorities warned of destructive winds and flooding rains.

The storm named Cyclone Debbie made landfall near Airlie Beach around midday.

Shortly before the eye of the storm reached the mainland, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology reported wind gusts of 262 kilometers per hour at nearby Hamilton Island where tourists were taking shelter in hotels.

Tens of thousands of people along the coastline have evacuated to higher ground.

Forecasters said the storm could bring as much as 50 centimeters of rain to some places, and warned that all of the rain would likely lead to major river flooding this week.

The center of the storm is expected to be about 50 kilometers inland by early Wednesday with wind gusts still reaching at least 125 kilometers per hour.

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