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A Flash Event (FE) represents a period of time when a web-server experiences a dramatic increase in incoming traffic, either following a newsworthy event that has prompted users to locate and access it, or as a result of redirection from other popular web or social media sites. This usually leads to network congestion and Quality-of-Service (QoS) degradation. These events can be mistaken for Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks aimed at disrupting the server. Accurate detection of FEs and their distinction from DDoS attacks is important, since different actions need to be undertaken by network administrators in these two cases. However, lack of public domain FE datasets hinders research in this area. In this paper we present a detailed study of flash events and classify them into three broad categories. In addition, the paper describes FEs in terms of three key components: the volume of incoming traffic, the related source IP-addresses, and the resources being accessed. We present such a FE model with minimal parameters and use publicly available datasets to analyse and validate our proposed model. The model can be used to generate different types of FE traffic, closely approximating real-world scenarios, in order to facilitate research into distinguishing FEs from DDoS attacks.