brochure describes the flood
warning system operated by the Australian Government, Bureau of
Meteorology for the Norman 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 Norman River catchment is located in north west Queensland and covers an area of approximately 49,000 square kilometres. The river rises in the Gregory Range (Great Dividing Range) 200 kilometres southeast of Croydon and flows in a northwesterly direction. It is joined by its major tributaries, the Clara and Yappar Rivers, near the river height and rainfall station of Yappar River. The river flows through the major town of Normanton, before finally entering the Gulf of Carpentaria through the major fishing port of Karumba. The only other town in the catchment is the old historic gold mining town of Croydon. Floods normally develop in the headwaters of the Norman, Clara and Yappar Rivers, however, general heavy rainfall situations can develop from monsoonal and cyclonic influences causing widespread flooding, particularly in the lower delta country around Normanton and Karumba.
The record major flood of January 1974 and the floods of February 1991 and early February 2009, caused widespread road closures, and the inundation of many properties throughout the catchment.
Historic flood information for the Norman River is limited. Heights are available, beginning with the 1974 flood and and stretching to the flood heights recorded in 2009.
The Bureau of Meteorology operates a flood warning system for the Norman River 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, as well as automatic telephone telemetry stations at Glenore Weir and Karumba, which are operated by the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines.
The Bureau's Flood Warning Centre issues Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins for the Gulf Rivers, including the Norman River, during flood events.
The Carpentaria Shire
Council for the lower Norman River
the Croydon Shire Council for the upper Norman River may be able to
information on flooding in your area of the Norman River catchment.
Flood Warnings and Bulletins
The Bureau of Meteorology issues Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins for the Gulf River catchments, including the Norman River basin, 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.
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 Norman River basin - it contains the flood gauge heights of the more significant recent floods.
Historical flood heights for all river stations in the Norman 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 Norman River catchment.
The above details are current at the time of preparing this document, but are subject to review. Up-to-date flood classifications and other details for all flood warning stations in the network are at:
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 Director, Bureau of Meteorology, GPO Box 413, Brisbane Q 4001