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1998 Katherine Flood Northern Territory Australia
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If you have arrived here looking for current info on the Katherine River, try here for the
Katherine Internet Start Page  or the previous
2006 Katherine Flood Information Page if you are looking for April 2006 info.

10 Years on in January 2008

Aerial photo of the Katherine
Central Business District 1998

A time to remember and a time many wish to forget. In 1998 Tropical Cyclone Les was out in the Gulf of Carpentaria moving in a Westerly direction carrying and conjuring up devastating payload (we only had 3 hourly satellite images on the web back then, no radar loops etc and not too many people had internet access outside of work) (Ahhh the good old days, no RSI).

Evacuation by trusty canoe

Goldies flood marker on the Gorge Road.







A stark reminder along the Gorge road
(now gone)

Katherine South

Satellite Images of Tropical Cyclone Les as
it starts in the Gulf of Carpentaria and crosses the Top End. It depicts an ordinary looking tropical rain depression. Images over the last 10 days of January 1998.
Start on 21st January - 30th Jan 1998.
Endlessly looping.

It was January 1998 and a tropical low moved westerly over the Cape York & into the Gulf of Carpentaria where it gathered enough puff to be called Tropical Cyclone Les on the 24th January. It continued moving West, crossing over Groote Eylandt and into Arnhemland. Once it hit land everyone breathes a sigh of relief as it usually runs out of steam. However Ex tropical Cyclone Les (now a rain depression) was still sucking in moisture & looking to dump it along its path.
The Tropical depression continued moving West during the Australia Day Long Weekend.
Katherine received some high localised  rainfalls in town and further similar amounts in the catchment area of the Katherine River.

Day to 9AM 26Jan98

221 mm

Day to 9AM 27Jan98

160 mm

Total over 2 days

381 mm


January 1998 total

913 mm

January Average

236 mm

Yearly Average

970 mm

We received over 420 mm in those 2 days (15 km downstream from Katherine).

The Katherine River rose to its highest level on record of 20.4 metres (Go here for some comparison shots and add another 1.5 metres to the level in the photo)
What most people forget is that downstream, Daly River Community then copped our grief and the people in Beswick Community & Mataranka also had similar battles at the same time with the Waterhouse & Roper Rivers.

Links of interest for the 1998 Katherine Flood

The second of my pages with info & stats & images collated from other factual sites.
Katherine Flood 1998 information page

National Security Website (pdf download on Katherine & Daly River)

EMA Emergency Management site

Wikipedia (site updated in 2007)

By the time I had a roll of film posted to me, most of these cars that would of
filled the foreground photo , had been shipped out of the car graveyard.
(there were several of these "dumping" points)
Our first survival mail with some cash in it was posted from Alice Springs
but went missing & never arrived.
Thankyou to the lady who sent the $50 that we never received.

Links to the 2006 Katherine Flood

2006 Katherine Flood Information Page
This is another of our pages with more comprehensive information as the technology had improved greatly in the 8 years in between.


1998 Katherine Oasis Shopping Centre & next to it with the yellow roof the YMCA
which became the new Woolies during the cleanout & rebuild over the following months.

A special mention goes to the Tindal RAAF personnel who methodically went from building to building emptying them of debris & decay. There was alot of dry retching going on in some buildings like Woolies.



Many people waited on their roofs

Nothing worse than thinking the floodwater has stopped rising and you think the worst is over. Then after evacuation of home the water level rises above your benches /door handles where you had stored your stuff.

our house even several weeks after the 98 flood
Peoples yards were full of flood damaged belongings.
This was here for weeks (our place), as it is so much easier to help someone else clean up, instead of doing your own place. I slapped myself around and got things moving eventually.

Its playing right now !
To get the "not so wet shot" I needed a ladder & several attempts to get the best
angle shot in the middle of the Intersection without being run over.
Johnnys is still going, with many people from all over Australia waiting until they get here to purchase a sat dish for their caravan

The aerial photographs were purchased from RAAF personnel (I believe RAAF Photographers) after the flood.
So at this stage, We paid for them & are using them. (& it looks like a Commonwealth Govt site (GA) has pinched them from my site)

Katherine Flood January 1998, April 2006, 2007 2008 2009 2010 (not pre-empting anything here, just search capability)
Other Key words - River camera, Rivercam River Cam