Flood Watch


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Alerting the community. The local FM88 radio becomes Municipal Emergency Radio during floods. Photograph, Strathbogie Shire Council.



Contained in this brochure is information about:

What is Flood Watch?

Flood Watch is a service provided by the Bureau of Meteorology to notify the Victorian community of the potential flood threat from a developing weather situation. It is an enhancement and replacement to the Flood Advice service previously provided by the Bureau.

What Information is in a Flood Watch?

Flood Watches will be issued for specific regions (eg: East Gippsland or North East Victoria). They will make short generalised statements about the developing weather situation including forecast rainfall totals, describe the current state of the catchments and indicate the streams at risk from flooding. Details on obtaining rain and stream level observations and access to updated Watches and Warnings will also be included.
For example a Flood Watch could read as follows:

“A low pressure system off the NSW southern coast is developing and should move south over the weekend.
Rainfall totals up to 50mm per day with locally heavier falls are possible in East Gippsland in the period until Monday morning. East Gippsland catchments are now saturated with some small stream rises already occurring. Rainfall forecast for the next few days is likely to lead to significant stream rises and possible areas of flooding.”

How will Flood Watch work?

Normally, the Bureau would issue a Flood Watch 24 to 36 hours in advance of any likely flooding and issue updates as required.
If at any time during this period there is a imminent threat of floods occurring, the Flood Watch will be upgraded to a Flood Warning.
Flood Warnings are firm predictions of flooding based on actual rainfall measurements and streamflow based models of catchment behaviour that take account of likely future rainfall. Flood Watches are based on meteorological forecasts and current catchment wetness only.
If, the weather situation doesn’t develop as anticipated and it becomes clear there is no further danger of floods occurring, the Flood Watch will be finalised.

What does Flood Watch mean for me?

A Flood Watch means a flood is possible in your area. It is important to remember that a Flood Watch is not a warning of imminent flooding. Although there is uncertainty attached to a Flood Watch, its early dissemination can help individuals and communities to be better prepared should flooding eventuate. The most important benefit is being advised earlier of a developing situation that could lead to flooding.

A Flood Watch notifies people living or working along rivers and streams to monitor the latest forecasts and rain and stream level observations. They should also prepare to move livestock, themselves, and their possessions to higher ground should flooding develop.

How will I get Flood Watches?

Flood Watches will be provided through emergency services, local government and the media.

Flood Watches will also be available directly from the Bureau of Meteorology through:

  • It's website at:
  • The Bureau's Telephone Weather Service. All current Victorian Flood Watches and Warnings are available for the cost of a local call on 1300 659 217

What can I do now?

  • Learn the terminology used in Flood Watches and Warnings so you understand their meaning.
  • Keep on hand a list of contact details and links so that you can access necessary information when Flood Watches are issued or you have concerns with regard to possible flooding.
  • Develop your own flood plan to lessen the impact of floods when they eventually occur.
    - Make yourself aware of the flood history of your area and what effects previous floods had at your locality.
    - Work out what you need to do at each flood category (minor, moderate, major).
    - Make an evacuation plan.
    - Prepare an emergency kit.

Further information can be obtained from the Australian Emergency Management website:


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Historical pumpshed near the old Orbost Butter Factory. Showing the February 1971 flood level for the Snowy River. Photograph, source unknown.



For general information about the Bureau of Meteorology's flood warning services please contact

Telephone (03) 9669 4000
Web: www.bom.gov.au/vic/flood/

For local information relating to flooding, please contact your Local Council, Catchment Management Authority or SES Regional Office

State Emergency Service
Web: www.ses.vic.gov.au

This service is being provided with the support of the Victorian Flood Warning Consultative Committee.