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BOM: Get familiar with warning terminology

warning terminology
Do you know the difference between a Flood Watch and Flood Warning?

Following significant rain events which have impacted the Bundaberg Region this storm season, the Bureau of Meteorology has shared an insight into warning terminology which may be issued during wet weather events.

A Flood Warning Services program is operated by the BOM and aims to provide an effective flood forecasting and warning service across the state.

“The Bureau of Meteorology provides flood forecasting and warning services for most major rivers in Australia,” a BOM spokesperson said.

“These services are provided with the cooperation of other government authorities, such as the State/Territory Emergency Services, water agencies and local councils.”

Warning terminology

What is the difference between a Flood Watch and a Flood Warning?

According to the BOM, a Flood Watch is issued when forecast rainfall information suggests that local and/or riverine flooding is possible across the Flood Watch area.

“A Flood Watch may cover a large area due to uncertainty associated with the location and amount of forecast rainfall,” the spokesperson said.

“A Flood Watch may also make reference to the type of flooding that may be experienced in the catchment being highlighted.”

Although there is uncertainty attached to a Flood Watch, its early information can help individuals and communities to be better prepared should flooding eventuate. 

“If a Flood Watch was issued for your area we encourage you to look out for future updates, heed Flood Warnings if these are issued and follow the advice of the local emergency services,” the spokesperson said.

“A Flood Warning is issued when the Bureau is more certain that flooding is expected, often when rainfall has started to fall.

“Flood Warnings will generally include specific predictions of the severity of expected flooding.”

“If flooding develops, consider making preparations to move livestock, family and possessions to higher ground.”

Warning terminology and flood classifications

The Bureau uses a three-tiered classification scheme that defines flooding as minor, moderate or major at key river height stations.

“Each classification is defined by the water level that causes certain impacts upstream and downstream of the station,” the BOM spokesperson said.

“These levels have been determined based on standard descriptions of flood effects, historical data and relevant local information.”

Minor flooding

Causes inconvenience. Low-lying areas next to water courses 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 buildings 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.

View the full breakdown of Flood Watch and Flood Warning information here.

Flood Gauge Mapping System

Bundaberg Regional Council operates a mapping system which provides targeted property flood information at your fingertips.

This is an important flood education tool and allows you to understand what the flood gauges mean to your property

Once in the mapping system you can toggle different flood gauge levels to understand your risk and simulate how smaller or bigger floods may impact on you.

You can also see the extent of the 2013 flood by viewing the high resolution imagery.

Find out more here.

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