This brochure describes the flood
warning system operated by the Australian Government, Bureau of
Meteorology for the Fitzroy 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.
Due to its immense size and fan-like shape, the Fitzroy River catchment is capable of producing severe flooding following heavy rainfall events. Its major tributaries, the Dawson, Mackenzie and Connors Rivers rise in the eastern coastal ranges and in the Great Dividing Range and join together about 100 kilometres west of Rockhampton. Major floods can result from either the Dawson or the Connors-Mackenzie Rivers. Significant flooding in the Rockhampton area can also occur from heavy rain in the local area below Riverslea.
The Fitzroy River at Rockhampton has a long and well documented history of flooding with flood records dating back to 1859. The highest recorded flood occurred in January 1918 and reached 10.11 metres on the Rockhampton gauge. The most recent major flood for the Fitzroy River spanned over the end of December 2010 and early January 2011. The Fitzroy River reached 9.20 metres on the Rockhampton gauge. This period also provided the towns of Emerald, Rolleston and Theodore with their largest floods on record. The figure below shows the significant flood peaks which have occurred at Rockhampton during the last 150 years.
The Bureau of Meteorology operates a flood warning system for the Fitzroy River and its tributaries based on a rainfall and river height observations network shown on the map. In consultation with the Rockhampton City Council, the Bureau issues predictions of flood heights for the Fitzroy River at Rockhampton whenever it is expected to exceed 7 metres on the city gauge. The objective is to provide at least 60 hours warning of flood heights above 7 metres. These forecasts are updated at least once each day. When possible, river height predictions are also given for Taroom, Theodore, Moura, and Baralaba on the Dawson River, Emerald on the Nogoa River, Yatton on the Isaac River and for Tartrus on the Mackenzie River.
The Bureau's Flood Warning Centre issues Flood Warnings, which include the river height predictions, and River Height Bulletins for the Fitzroy River catchment regularly during flood events.
Depending on your location in the Fitzroy River catchment, further flood information can be found through any of the following councils: the Isaac Regional Council, Central Highlands Regional Council, Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council, Banana Shire Council, Western Downs Regional Council, Maranoa Regional Council, Rockhampton Regional Council and Livingstone Shire Council.
In addition, the Rockhampton Regional Council provides a local information service on flooding in the Rockhampton area. It has data and information on past flooding from which estimates of areas and depths of expected inundation are given. This enables flood threatened residents to take appropriate action before the floodwaters reach their property.
Flood Warnings and Bulletins
The Bureau of Meteorology issues Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins for the Fitzroy 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 Fitzroy River catchment - it contains the flood gauge heights for the more significant recent floods.
Historical flood heights for all river stations in the Fitzroy 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 Fitzroy River catchment.
The above details arecorrect 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