Flash flooding warning for NQ as ex-cyclone nears coast

SEVERE heavy rainfall is expected to impact Townsville this afternoon as ex-tropical cyclone Owen crosses the North Queensland coast.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a warning for heavy rain, which may lead to flash flooding to all coastal and adjacent inland areas between Port Douglas and Bowen through into early Monday.

Ex-tropical cyclone Owen, which was located in the Coral Sea about 150km northeast of Cairns at about 11am today, is expected to continue to approach the North Queensland coast later today.

Six hour total rainfall in excess of 150mm are possible.

Damaging winds, with peak gusts in excess of 90km/h, are possible near coastal and island areas.

Tonight's Christmas Carols by Candlelight has been cancelled.

So far this weekend the heaviest rainfall has occurred between Bowen and Mackay. Since 9am Saturday about 165mm of rain has fallen at Strathdickie, near Proserpine.

The Bureau expects the system will move further inland on Monday.

Meteorologist Dean Narramore said radar images showed large bands of rain moving across the Townsville region from offshore this afternoon.

"There is that severe weather warning … it's going to bring 20mm to 50mm (of rain) but some areas may get a lot more," he said.

Mr Narramore said this weather system was expected to bring more rain to Townsville than usually occurs during storms due to the wind direction.

"Normally with the south easterly wind the rain stay's off shore and then once it gets to Hinchinbrook Islands and Ingham it moves on shore," he said.

"The difference with this system is the wind is more easterly and north easterly which will bring the offshore rain."

Mr Narramore said temperatures would remain cooler throughout the next couple of days.

"With the clouds blocking the sun and the winds now coming from the ocean, rather than the land … it's cooler and more humid winds," he said.

Townsville is expected to reach a top of 27C today.