A storm expert says far north Queensland is in for a major battering when Cyclone Ita hits.

Far north Queenslanders should expect “absolute mayhem” when cyclone Ita crosses, a storm expert warns.

Authorities are also warning Cooktown residents, north of Cairns, that they may be cut off for at least two days.

The severe category five cyclone, with destructive winds of 300 kilometres an hour, is expected to make landfall between Cooktown and Cape Melville on Friday night.

The powerful storm will rip off roof tops, destroy homes and level forests, James Cook University Geoscience Professor Jonathan Nott, who is in Cooktown to study Ita, told AAP.

“It will be absolute mayhem,” he said.

“If this tracking doesn’t change in the next six hours then I think it will be an absolute calamity.

“There’ll be a lot of building damage, a lot of trees and tin lying across roads, power lines down … and if this cyclone maintains its strength we will see the forests stripped.”

Prof Nott said weather conditions, including sea surface temperatures, have been a perfect environment for it to form.

He said Ita is small but as intense as Yasi, which tore through Queensland in 2011.

Cyclone Vance, which hit Western Australian in 1999, was more extreme.

Prof Nott has been in, or witnessed the aftermath of, every severe cyclone in Australia over the past 15 years.

He said his research has shown cyclone activity in Queensland and WA has taken a “dramatic nose dive” since 1960 due to climate change.

Climate change has led to fewer but more intense cyclones, especially in the Coral Sea, he said.