Australian Water Information Dictionary

Water forecasts: Flood warning services

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Australian Height Datum

The datum that sets mean sea level as zero elevation. Mean sea level was determined from observations recorded by 30 tide gauges around the coast of the Australian continent for the period 1966–1968. See Geoscience Australia for further information.

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The datum that sets mean sea level as zero elevation. Mean sea level was determined from observations recorded by 30 tide gauges around the coast of the Australian continent for the period 1966–1968. See Geoscience Australia for further information.

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The land area draining to a point of interest, such as a water storage or monitoring site on a watercourse.

Related: water storage

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Flooding occurring within about six hours of rain, usually the result of intense local rain and characterised by rapid rises in water-levels.

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An advice of the potential occurrence of flooding inferred from forecast meteorological considerations and an assessment of catchment wetness. The issuing of a flood watch is meant to indicate that vigilance to potential flooding is required of the community.

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Synonym: flood watch

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An advice of the potential occurrence of flooding inferred from forecast meteorological considerations and an assessment of catchment wetness. The issuing of a flood watch is meant to indicate that vigilance to potential flooding is required of the community.

Synonym: flood threat advice

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Describes situations where intense rainfall is expected to cause high run-off volumes in small catchments or localised areas with minimal impact on main streams.

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In addition to the criteria for moderate flooding, extensive rural areas and/or urban areas are inundated. Properties and towns are likely to be isolated and major traffic routes likely to be closed. Evacuation of people from flood affected areas may be required.

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Causes inconvenience. Low-lying areas next to watercourses are inundated which may require the removal of stock and equipment. Minor roads may be closed and low-level bridges submerged.

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In addition to the criteria for minor flooding, the evacuation of some houses may be required. Main traffic routes may be covered. The area of inundation is substantial in rural areas requiring the removal of stock.

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The depth of water (in metres) at a river height measuring gauge located along the river. In most cases a zero reading is the lowest water-level that is reached during dry conditions. In many tidal areas, as well as a few inland areas, river levels are expressed in metres above mean sea level or Australian height datum.

Related: peak river height

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The highest river height (in metres) observed during a flood event at the specified site on the river.

Related: observed river height

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The height (in metres) to which the river is predicted to rise at the river gauge referred to in the warning. The actual depth of floodwater will vary across the floodplain. Knowledge of past flood events, as well as estimates of flood levels from flood studies, are used by local Councils, emergency services and landowners to determine which areas are likely to be flooded from the predicted river height. The accuracy of this prediction will depend on a number of factors, including the type of flood forecasting model and its input data. Predicted river heights are subject to forecasting error and are regularly updated as more information becomes available.

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A river alert is an advice issued whenever specific rainfall or river height criteria are exceeded at key reporting stations.

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A summary of observed river heights (metres) at selected locations and specified times within river basins. These bulletins are not available in all States.

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