2014 – Design Rainfalls – Past, Present and Future

Janice Green, Cathy Beesley, Cynthia The, Catherine Jolly

Design rainfall estimates are essential inputs to the design of infrastructure such as gutters, roofs, culverts, stormwater drains, flood mitigation levees and retarding basins. They are also integral to large dam spillway adequacy assessments undertaken to determine the flood magnitude that existing dams can safely withstand.

The previous design rainfall estimates for probabilities from the 1 year Average Recurrence Interval (ARI) to the 100 year ARI were derived by the Bureau of Meteorology (the Bureau) in the early 1980s using a database comprising primarily of Bureau raingauges and techniques for statistical data analysis that were considered appropriate at the time. More recently, estimates of rare design rainfall estimates for probabilities from 100 year ARI to 2000 year ARI have been derived for each state, with the exception of the Northern Territory, using the CRC-FORGE method.

As part of the revision of the 1987 edition of Australian Rainfall and Runoff: A Guide to Flood Estimation being undertaken by Engineers Australia, the Bureau conducted a five year project to revise the design rainfall estimates for probabilities from 1 year ARI to 100 year ARI. The new design rainfall estimates are based on a greatly expanded database which incorporates data collected by organisations across Australia. These data have been analysed using contemporary statistical methods that are appropriate for Australian rainfall data. These new Intensity-Duration-Frequency (IFD) design rainfalls were released in July 2013.

Over the next 18 months, the Bureau will be deriving design rainfall estimates for probabilities more frequent than 1 year ARI and revising the existing estimates of the CRC-FORGE rare design rainfalls. The estimates for more frequent design rainfalls will replace the current ad hoc estimates that have been derived by organisations in the absence of other estimates. The revised rare design rainfall estimates will replace the current estimates that were derived on a state by state basis and which, for most states, are now in need of revision as a result of the release of the new IFDs.


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