Major cities of Cairns, Townsville, Mackay and Innisfail have been warned

Queensland is bracing for more severe weather as Cyclone Yasi heads for the east coast.

The category 3 tropical storm is expected to intensify to a category 4 storm over the Coral Sea, making landfall in approximately 72 hours.

The Australian government’s Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) forecasters said flooding is expected, with 100 to 200mm of rain possible in a 24-hour period.

BOM also reported the storm is currently 1610 kilometres east northeast of Townsville and 1490 kilometres northeast of Mackay moving west at 30 kilometres per hour.

BOM has issued a coastal warning from Cooktown to Yeppoon and inland to between Georgetown and Moranbah.

This area includes major regional cities of Cairns, Townsville, Mackay and Innisfail.

Innisfail has previously borne the brunt of a category 4 storm. In 2006, Cyclone Larry made landfall and caused nearly $1bn in economic damage and one fatality.