Cyclone Hamish 2
© Commonwealth of Australia 2009, Bureau of MeteorologyColour infrared image taken on 9 March 2009
The weather bureau expects Cyclone Hamish will remain a Category 4 system tonight as it continues moving along the central Queensland coast.

The Category 4 storm is located off the Capricornia coast and is estimated to be 255 kilometres east of Yeppoon and 245 kilometres north-north-east of Bundaberg, moving south-east at 17 kilometres per hour.

Damaging winds are threatening communities between Yeppoon and Hervey Bay.

The Bureau of Meteorology says as Hamish moves to the south-east, sea levels are expected to be elevated above the normal tide line and large waves may produce minor flooding along the foreshore.

Hamish is expected to weaken over the next 24 hours and will probably be downgraded tomorrow, but forecaster Bruce Gunn says it is still generating dangerous winds.

"Heron Island right now is on the fringes of the cyclone," he said.

"They're getting winds gusts around about the 100 kilometre an hour mark."

Cyclone Hamish 1
© Commonwealth of Australia 2009, Bureau of MeteorologyTropical cyclone advice issued on 9 March 2009
Mike Shapland from Emergency Management Queensland says it remains unclear what the storm will do.

Authorities along the coast conducted a phone hookup this afternoon.

Mr Shapland says it appears the threat has eased for now but it remains unclear what the storm will do.

"I think we've got a fairly clear space for the next 24 to 48 hours if the bureau's track and estimations come right," he said.

"But really what happens after Wednesday is the question in our minds."

Authorities say the next 24 hours will be the crucial period to see if Cyclone Hamish turns back closer to the coast.

Flights, rail services resume

Flights have returned to normal at Gladstone after Qantaslink, the only commercial operator in the city, cancelled this morning's flights in and out of the central Queensland city because of Cyclone Hamish.

Flights returned to normal just before 12:00pm AEST.

The Gladstone Ports Corporation says rail services have resumed at both its RG Tanna and Barney Point coal terminals.

The port is expected to remain closed until the cyclone warning for the area is lifted.

Eighteen ships are waiting at sea, until the port is reopened.

Search continues

The Defence Force has been called in to help search for a fishing trawler missing in wild weather off the central Queensland coast.

Authorities started searching for the trawler this morning after its distress beacon was activated.

Three people are on board the boat.

A C130 defence plane was brought in to continue the search after the initial operation involving a smaller plane was called off because of strong winds and rain from Cyclone Hamish.

Tracey Jiggins from Australian Search and Rescue says the boat is in an isolated spot.

"We've put a broadcast out to all shipping in the area just to find out whether or not there's any civilian or defence craft in that area," she said.

"At this stage we've had no response so we're assuming there's no other surface vessels in that particular area at this time."