This brochure describes the flood
warning system operated by the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology
throughout Queensland. It assists individuals and agencies
responsible for managing and responding to flood disasters to
understand the flood warning system. More details are given in specific
information brochures describing the warning system for each River
Flood warning is an integral component of counter disaster arrangements for a community at risk from flooding.
The aim of the warning system is to minimise loss of life and property damage by warning people of the likelihood and size of a flood so that they may evacuate, shift property or stock to higher ground, or implement other temporary flood loss reduction measures.
Warnings are of limited value unless they are delivered in a timely and effective manner and property owners and residents in the flood-threatened area believe the warning and take appropriate action in advance of being flooded.
Roles & Responsibilities
The responsibility for flood forecasting and warning services in Australia rests with the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology.
In Queensland, the effectiveness of the flood warning system depends on the cooperative involvement of the Bureau of Meteorology, State Government agencies and Local Government working with flood-threatened communities.
The Queensland Flood Warning Consultative Committee (FWCC) is a joint Commonwealth, State and Local Government Committee which coordinates the development and operation of flood warning services in Queensland.
The roles of the primary agencies involved in the flood warning system, as recommended by the FWCC, are outlined in the figure below.
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.
The zero level of a river gauge ("gauge zero") is typically set at the low flow level of the stream, i.e. the water level of the stream after a long dry spell. River heights are measured in metres above the gauge zero. For example, a river height reading of 5 metres means that the water level has risen 5 metres above its lowest level. In tidal areas, the gauge zero may be set at the mean tide level.
Each river height can be converted to its equivalent on Australian Height Datum (AHD) by applying the AHD value of the gauge zero. Contact the Bureau of Meteorology if this is required.
Flood Warning Operations
The development and provision of flood warning services in Queensland is the role of the Bureau's Flood Warning Centre in Brisbane.
The Flood Warning Centre operates up to 24 hours per day depending on the severity and extent of flooding.
The basic components of the flood forecasting system are shown in the diagram below.
Data Collection & Transmission
Rainfall and river height data is collected from over 1000 sites throughout Queensland via radio and telephone telemetry from automatic stations and via telephone-computer links from volunteer observers.
Meteorological & Hydrological Forecasting
The collated data is analysed using a range of techniques including simple empirical relationships and complex computer catchment simulation models to predict the likely timing and severity of flooding. The impact of forecast weather and rainfall conditions is also assessed.
Flood Warning Services
The Bureau of Meteorology issues Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins for most Queensland river basins regularly during floods.
They are sent to radio stations for broadcast, and to
the local Councils, emergency services and a large number of other
agencies involved in managing flood response
activities. They are available via:
Internet/World Wide Web
Flood Warnings are available through a recorded voice retrieval system, along with a wide range of other weather related and climate information.
River Basin Information
River basin brochures which contain more detailed information such as flood level classifications, flood history, peak flood heights and maps have been prepared for most river basins in Queensland. They are available via the Queensland Flood Warning Centre page.
For further information, contact: