This brochure describes the flood
warning system operated by the Australian Government, Bureau of
Meteorology for the Burrum and Cherwell Rivers. 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 Burrum River catchment covers an area of about 935 square kilometres which includes its major tributary, the Cherwell River, with a catchment area of about 200 square kilometres. The headwaters of the Burrum River are in the Sea View Range to the west of Hervey Bay.
The main flood affected area is the Pacific Haven Estate which lies on the Cherwell River just upstream of the Burrum River junction. Heavy rainfall in the Cherwell River catchment can cause rapid river rises at Pacific Haven and travel times are very short. Pacific Haven is also susceptible to backwater flooding from the Burrum River and flood levels can also be affected by higher than normal tides and storm surges.
Official flood records for the Burrum River only commenced in 1995 although there is some historical data available for earlier major floods in 1955 and 1992. The highest flood in the Burrum River at Howard was 13.40 metres recorded in 1955. This compares with the 1992 flood level in Howard of 11.96 metres. There is no flood record for the Pacific Haven site prior to the major flood of 1992.
The Fraser Coast Regional Council in conjunction with the Bureau of Meteorology operates a flood warning system for the Burrum and Cherwell River catchments. The network consists of automatic rainfall and river height stations which regularly forward data via radio telemetry to a base station located at Hervey Bay and the Bureau's Flood Warning Centre in Brisbane. The system provides early warning of heavy rainfall and river rises throughout the two catchments and enables more accurate and timely flood warning and forecasts. The Department of Natural Resources and Mines also co-locates an automatic telemetry station at Lenthalls Dam.
The Bureau's Flood Warning Centre issues Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins for the Burrum and Cherwell River catchments during flood events. Qualitative flood forecasts are issued when moderate flood levels are likely to be exceeded.
The Bundaberg Regional Council and the Fraser Coast Regional Council are both able to provide further information on flooding in your area of the Burrum and Cherwell River catchments.
Burrum and Cherwell ALERT System
The Burrum and Cherwell ALERT Flood Warning System was completed in 1995 as a co-operative project between the Bureau of Meteorology and the Fraser Coast Regional Council. The system comprises of a network of rainfall and river height stations which report via VHF radio to base station computers in the Hervey Bay. The stations send reports for every 1 millimetre of rainfall and every 50 millimetre change in river height.
In consultation with Fraser Coast Regional Council, the Bureau issues Flood Warnings for the Burrum and Cherwell Rivers. The Cherwell River particularly responds very quickly to rainfall and warnings rely on the ALERT system and local arrangements.
The base station computer in the Fraser Coast Regional Council office at Hervey Bay 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 Burrum and Cherwell River catchments 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 Burrum and Cherwell River catchments - it contains the flood gauge heights of the more significant recent floods.
Historical flood heights for all river stations in the Burrum and Cherwell 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.
The table below shows the flood classifications for selected river height stations in the Burrum and Cherwell River catchments.
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