FLOOD WARNING SYSTEM
for the
GEORGINA RIVER & EYRE CREEK

This brochure describes the flood warning system operated by the Australian Government, Bureau of Meteorology for the Georgina River and Eyre Creek. 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.

Eyre Creek at Glengyle
Eyre Creek at Glengyle
Contained in this document is information about:
(Last updated April 2014)

Flood Risk

The Georgina River and Eyre Creek system drains an area of approximately 210,000 square kilometres. It rises to the north west of Mt Isa with three main tributaries, the Buckle, Sander and Ranken Rivers. The latter two have their headwaters in the Northern Territory.  Further inflow enters the system from numerous creeks and  rivers, the  two main tributaries being the Burke and Hamilton Rivers. The Burke River drains the area to the north of Boulia and enters the Georgina River about 20 kilometres upstream of Marion Downs, whilst the Hamilton rises to the northeast of Boulia and enters the main Georgina below Marion Downs. Towns located within the catchment include Urandangie, Dajarra, Boulia and Bedourie.

Very little rainfall is needed to bring the country to a standstill. Following flood rains,  the main channel fills fairly quickly and then spreads out into the neighboring channels and watercourses for kilometres on either side.  In the event of severe flooding, the Georgina can vary in width in the upper reaches from 15 to 20 kilometers, and in the lower reaches it is estimated in some sections to be 25 to 30 kilometers wide.

The main impact of flooding is the isolation of towns and properties and the extensive inundation of grazing lands which can last several months in some areas. Road transport is disrupted for long periods.

Previous Flooding

Flooding in the Georgina River is generally associated with widespread rainfall situations over northern and central Queensland and the Northern Territory. The two most recent major floods that were recorded in the system occurred in December 2000/January 2001 and January/February 2007. The highest recorded flood peaks occurred in late January and early February of 1974. The following figures show the significant flood peaks at Marion Downs and Glengyle since records began.

Highest Annual Flood Peak Diagram

Highest Annual Flood Peak Diagram

Flood Forecasting

The Bureau of Meteorology operates a flood warning system for the Georgina River and Eyre Creek based on  a rainfall and river height observations network shown on the map. The network consists of a number of volunteer rainfall and river height observers who forward observations by telephone when the initial flood height has been exceeded at their station.

The Bureau's Flood Warning Centre issues Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins for the Georgina River and Eyre Creek during flood events. Qualitative flood forecasts are issued when  moderate flood levels are likely to be exceeded.

Local Information

Local Council's throughout the Georgina River catchment may be able to provide further details of flooding in your area. 

Flood Warnings and Bulletins

The Bureau of Meteorology issues Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins for the Georgina River and Eyre Creek 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 :

Radio
Radio stations, particularly the local ABC, and local commercial stations, broadcast  Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins soon after issue. 

Local response organisations
These include the Councils, Police, and State Emergency Services in the local area.

Internet/World Wide Web
Flood Warnings, River Height Bulletins and other weather related data is available on the Bureau's Web page at http://www.bom.gov.au . The Queensland Flood Warning Centre website is http://www.bom.gov.au/qld/flood .

Telephone Weather
Flood Warnings are available through a recorded voice retrieval system, along with a wide range of other weather related and climate information.

Main Directory Phone 1900 955 360
Flood Warnings Phone 1300 659 219

Telephone Weather Services Call Charges:
1900 numbers: 77c per minute incl. GST; 1300 numbers: Low call cost - around 27.5c incl. GST.
(More from international, satellite, mobile or public phones)

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 Georgina River and Eyre Creek basin - it contains the flood gauge heights of the more significant recent floods.

Flood Event Camooweal Urandangi Roxborough Downs Glenormiston Boulia Marion Downs Bedourie Cluny Glengyle
Jan/Feb 1974 - 7.45* 9.80 8.89 5.96 7.42 - 6.40 6.45
Feb/Mar 1977 - 7.32 9.93 8.78 5.35 6.91 - 5.70 5.74
Feb/Mar 1991 - 3.75 - 4.95 4.40 6.20 - 5.50 5.15
Mar 1997 - 7.30 - 8.15 5.70 6.65 - 5.90 5.65
Dec 00 / Jan 01 - 6.00 - 7.00 5.40 6.21 - 5.40 5.13
Jan/Feb 2004 - 4.90 - 5.55 5.60 5.14 - 3.75 3.40
Jan 2007 2.40 4.70 8.72 6.70 3.15 5.95 5.40 4.60 4.40
Jan 2009 6.50 6.85 9.22 7.50 5.26 6.15 5.38 5.50 5.25
Mar 2011 - 5.70 8.63 6.50 - 5.80 5.68 5.25 4.85
All heights are in metres on flood gauges. 
[*] This height was obtained from a surveyed flood mark

Historical flood heights for all river stations in the Georgina River and Eyre Creek Floodwarning network, as shown on the map, are available from the Bureau of Meteorology upon request.

GEORGINA RIVER AND EYRE CREEK CATCHMENT - ASSESSMENT OF THE FLOOD POTENTIAL

Major flooding requires a large scale rainfall situation over the Georgina River and Eyre Creek catchment. The following can be used as a rough guide to the likelihood of flooding in the catchment :

75mm in 24 hours over isolated areas, with lesser rains of 50mm over more extensive areas will cause stream rises and the possibility of minor flooding. If lesser rainfalls have been recorded in the previous 24 to 72 hrs, then moderate to major flooding may develop.

100mm in 24 hours will cause isolated flooding in the immediate area of the heavy rain.

General 100mm or heavier falls in 24 hours over a wide area will most likely cause major flooding in the middle to lower reaches of the Georgina, Burke and Hamilton Rivers extending into Eyre Creek, downstream of Marion Downs. 

Flood Classifications

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.

Minor Flooding : Causes inconvenience. Low-lying areas next to watercourses are inundated. Minor roads may be closed and low-level bridges submerged. In urban areas inundation may affect some backyards and buildings below the floor level as well as bicycle and pedestrian paths. In rural areas removal of stock and equipment may be required.

Moderate Flooding :In addition to the above, the area of inundation is more substantial. Main traffic routes may be affected. Some buidlings may be affected above the floor level. Evacuation of flood affected areas may be required. In rural areas removal of stock is required.

Major Flooding :In addition to the above, extensive rural areas and/or urban areas are inundated. Many buildings may be affected above the floor level. Properties and towns are likely to be isolated and major rail and traffic routes closed. Evacuation of flood affected areas may be required. Utility services may be impacted.   

Flood Level Classification Diagram

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 Georgina River and Eyre Creek catchment.

River Height Station
First Report Height
Crossing Height
Minor Flood Level
Crops and Grazing
Moderate Flood Level
Towns and Houses
Major Flood Level
Camooweal 1.5 8.30 (B) 2.0 -   4.0 -   6.0
Urandangi 0.5 0.20 (X) 1.0 -   5.0 7.0 7.0
Roxborough Downs - - 4.5 - 6.0 - 8.0
Glenormiston 3.0 2.60 (B) 3.0 3.0  4.0 -   6.0
Boulia 3.0 4.90 (B) 4.0 4.0 5.0 6.1 6.0
Marion
Downs
1.0 3.50 (A) 3.0 3.0 4.0 -   5.0
Bedourie 3.0 4.40 (B) 3.5 4.0 5.0
Cluny 1.0 3.10 (A) 2.0 3.5 4.5
Glengyle 1.0 3.30 (B) 2.0 -   3.0 -   4.0
 All heights are in metres on flood gauges. 
(B) = Bridge  (A) = Approaches  (C) = Causeway  (X) = Crossing

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