Know the risks: understanding flood advisories, watches and warnings

If you are in an area with a flood watch or warning, you should monitor Alberta Emergency Alerts and your local municipality website, radio station, or Twitter handle for updates.

Alberta’s river forecasting system has three main alert levels. Understand what each level means and the steps you can take to stay safe.


What they mean: stream levels are rising or are expected to rise rapidly. No major flooding is expected but minor flooding in low-lying areas is possible.

What you should do:

  • Use caution around riverbanks and water bodies.
  • Monitor Alberta Emergency Alerts for updates – depending on how the weather changes and other conditions, the advisory may end or it may be upgraded to a flood watch. You can also download the Emergency Alerts app and the Alberta Rivers app (currently for Android only) to get advisory info sent directly to your phone.
  • Make sure you have taken steps for general flood preparedness. If possible, put together a 72-hour emergency preparedness kit, if you don’t already have one.


What they mean: stream levels are rising and will approach or exceed the bank. Flooding of adjacent areas may occur.

What you should do:

  • Stay out of affected water bodies and avoid riverbanks – water levels can rise quickly.
  • Monitor Alberta Emergency Alerts and updates from your local municipality. Although a flood watch does not necessarily mean flooding will occur, it should be taken seriously. Depending on the situation, your local government may recommend steps you can take to minimize damage from high water levels.


What they mean: rising stream levels will result in flooding of adjacent areas. There is a high likelihood that overland flooding will occur.

What you should do:

  • Avoid riverbanks. Do not attempt to cross or drive over flowing water – floodwaters can erode roads and make the ground slippery. As little as 15 cm of moving water can knock you off your feet
  • Take steps to prepare your home for a flood. These may include:
  • Securing your emergency preparedness and/or evacuation kits
  • Turning off electrical and gas appliances
  • Moving furniture in your home to higher levels
  • Storing extra water in clear containers and stocking up on non-perishable food
  • Filling your vehicle’s tank with gas
  • Making sure you can easily exit your home in case of evacuation
  • Monitor updates from your local municipality. If evacuation is recommended or required, leave the area immediately following the instructions you are given.


Getting Ready for Flooding (This PDF has steps for making a flood plan, putting together an emergency preparedness kit, preparing your house for flooding, and safe evacuation)


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