This brochure describes the flood
warning system operated by the Australian
Government, Bureau of Meteorology for the Burdekin River. It includes
reference information which
will be useful for understanding Flood Warnings and River Height
Bulletins issued by the Bureau's
Flood Warning Centre during periods of high rainfall and flooding.
The Burdekin River basin drains an area of about 130,000 square kilometres. Two main tributaries drain the catchment, the Burdekin River flowing from the north and the Belyando from the south, which join at the Burdekin Falls Dam. Downstream of the Dam, the Bowen and Bogie Rivers join the Burdekin River before it flows into the sea near Ayr/Home Hill.
Major floods, causing inundation of properties and closure of main roads, can occur along the major rivers both upstream and downstream of the Burdekin Falls Dam. Downstream of the Dam, major flooding in the Ayr and Home Hill areas results from either flood waters travelling down from the upper Burdekin and Belyando basin or from intense rain in areas below the Dam. Ayr and Home Hill occasionally experience severe flooding with many houses and businesses affected, especially in the Home Hill township.
Records of large floods at Ayr extend back as far as 1911, and since then 10 major floods have occurred. The most recent major flood was in February 1991 when the river rose to 12.53 metres at the Inkerman Bridge gauge.
The Burdekin Shire Council, in conjunction with the Bureau of Meteorology operates a flood warning system for the Burdekin River catchment. The ALERT network consists of automatic rainfall and river height stations which regularly forward data via radio telemetry to a base station located at the Council office in Ayr and the Bureau's Flood Warning Centre in Brisbane. The system provides early warning of heavy rainfall and river rises in the catchment below the Dam and enables more accurate and timely flood warning and forecasts. The balance of the network consists of volunteer rainfall and river height observers who forward observations by telephone when the initial flood height has been exceeded at their station. The Department of Natural Resources and Mines also operates a number of automatic telemetry stations throughout the catchment which provide data during floods.
The Bureau's Flood Warning Centre issues Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins for the Burdekin River catchment during flood events. River height predictions are issued when moderate flood levels are likely to be exceeded at Inkerman Bridge.
Depending on your location in the Burdekin River catchment, further flood information can be found through any of the following councils: the Burdekin Shire Council, the Charters Towers Regional Council, the Whitsunday Regional Council, the Mackay Regional Council, the Barcaldine Regional Council or the Isaac Regional Council.
The Burdekin Shire Council operates a local flood information service during periods of lower Burdekin River flooding. The Council's Flood Reporting Centre issues regular bulletins to update the river heights from the ALERT system for the Bowen, Bogie and Lower Burdekin Rivers. These heights, together with information about the expected effects of the flood in the Ayr and Home Hill district, are issued by facsimile to radio and TV stations for broadcast. Residents who are in flood threatened areas should contact the Burdekin Shire Council for detailed local information and be prepared to take appropriate action before floodwaters reach their property.
Burdekin ALERT System
The Burdekin ALERT Flood Warning System was completed in 1990 as a cooperative project between the Bureau of Meteorology and the Burdekin Shire Council. The system comprises of a network of rainfall and river height stations which report via VHF radio to a base station computer located in the Council office in Ayr. The stations send reports for every one millimetre of rainfall and every 50 millimetre change in river height.
The base station computer in the Burdekin Shire Council office collects the data and has software that displays it in graphical and tabular form. This data is also received by the Bureau's Flood Warning Centre where it is used in hydrologic models to produce river height predictions.
Flood Warnings and Bulletins
The Bureau of Meteorology issues Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins for the Burdekin River catchment regularly during floods. They are sent to radio stations for broadcast, and to local Councils, emergency services and a large number of other agencies involved in managing flood response activities.
Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins are available via :
Internet/World Wide Web
Interpreting Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins
Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins contain observed river heights for a selection of the river height monitoring locations. The time at which the river reading has been taken is given together with its tendency (e.g. rising, falling, steady or at its peak). The Flood Warnings may also contain predictions in the form of minor, moderate or major flooding for a period in the future. River Height Bulletins also give the height above or below the road bridge or causeway for each river station located near a road crossing.
One of the simplest ways of understanding what the actual or predicted river height means is to compare the height given in the Warning or Bulletin with the height of previous floods at that location.
The table below summarises the flood history of the Burdekin River catchment - it contains the flood gauge heights of the highest know floods recorded at selected river height locations, together with heights of recent floods.
Historical flood heights for all river stations in the Burdekin River Floodwarning network, as shown on the map, are available from the Bureau of Meteorology upon request.
At each flood warning river height station, the severity of flooding is described as minor, moderate or major according to the effects caused in the local area or in nearby downstream areas. Terms used in Flood Warnings are based on the following definitions.
Each river height station has a pre-determined flood classification which details heights on gauges at which minor, moderate and major flooding commences. Other flood heights may also be defined which indicate at what height the local road crossing or town becomes affected by floodwaters.
(B) = Bridge (S) = Spillway
The above details are correct at the time of preparing this document. Up-to-date flood classifications and other details for all flood warning stations in the network are at:
Flood gauge information
For the latest rainfall and river height conditions please use the following link:
For the latest rainfall and river height network map please use the following link:Network maps
For further information, contact:
The Regional Hydrology Manager, Bureau of Meteorology, GPO Box 413, Brisbane Q 4001