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Topics > Flood

Warning arrangements

For emergency help in flood and storm, call the SA State Emergency Service hotline: 132 500

If you are in a significant flood or storm event:


What warnings will I get before a flood?

The SA State Emergency Service is responsible for providing flood warnings to the public during a flood event. The information in these warnings comes from the Department for Environment and Water, the Bureau of Meteorology, landscape boards, SA Water and local councils.

We do not issue flood warnings on this website.

Warnings for South Australia are issued on:

Warnings are also made available via:

  • free-to-air broadcast media (radio and television)
  • public internet, including SA State Emergency Service
  • social media.

Flood warning activities and roles

Activities leading up to warningsOrganisation
Monitor weather and rainfall, and predict water levels in riversBureau of Meteorology
Interpret rainfall and water level information and assist the SA State Emergency Service to predict impacts and predict water levels in smaller catchmentsDepartment for Environment and Water
Coordinate warnings and calls to actionsSA State Emergency Service
Plan and take action on responseSA State Emergency Service, SA Police, other state government departments and local councils

How the warning system works

In Australia, information from organisations involved in flood is fed into a Total Flood Warning System (see the Australian Disaster Resilience Handbook Collection, Manual 21: Flood Warning). Elements of the system are summarised here:

1. Monitoring and prediction

The monitoring of watercourses in real time is done by the Department for Environment and Water, the Bureau of Meteorology, landscape boards, SA Water and local councils. They use equipment including rainfall gauges, and water level and flow gauges in rivers and creeks, to detect environmental conditions which may lead to flooding and predict water levels during any flood. They might also gather information from past flood events. Data systems are used to collect, analyse and display information.

2. Interpretation

The monitoring and predictions are then interpreted by the relevant agency (depending on location) into information on the likely impacts and which communities are at risk. This information is used for operational decision-making by the organisations responsible for managing flood mitigation infrastructure and the emergency services if needed.

3. Message construction

To ensure messages are consistent and concise, organisations involved in the warning devise the messages and cross-check each other’s work.

4. Communication

The predictions are also used to develop messages to warn people and organisations likely to be affected by the flood. See Australian Warning System (aidr.org.au).

5. Protective behaviour

The agencies involved will then work to support threatened communities during the flood event.

6. Review

This system is reviewed regularly to ensure it continues to be suitable.

The Flood Hazard Plan (pdf) has a lot more information about flood warning and intelligence, how the warning systems work, and what each organisation is responsible for.