A flood warning information system has been unveiled at Whittington City Park in Hot Springs.
The flood warning information system is the first in Arkansas to use satellite data transmissions from multiple U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) gauges.
The flood warning information system includes four gauges where streamflow (water volume per second), stage (water level), and rainfall are monitored, and two additional locations where rainfall only is monitored.
All six monitoring sites transmit information hourly via satellite to a publicly accessible USGS webpage.
When rainfall rates exceed 0.3 inch per 15 minutes or 2 inches per hour, or when stages rise by 4 feet, an alarm is triggered in the data recorder which then initiates a series of phone calls to select personnel at USGS, City of Hot Springs and National Weather Service (NWS).
After verification that a flood event is imminent, NWS and the City of Hot Springs will issue an appropriate warning to residents. The system is funded by the City of Hot Springs and USGS. The equipment gathering the data will be operated by USGS.
The four streamflow/rainfall gauges are located at:
Whittington Creek at Whittington City Park
Whittington Creek at entrance to creek arch
Hot Springs Creek at entrance to creek arch
Hot Springs Creek downstream of exit from creek arch
The two rainfall gauges are located:
on south slope of Sugarloaf Mountain and
on east slope of Music Mountain
Beginning July 22, the public can monitor water levels and rainfall at the USGS webpage .
"By utilizing the latest technology, this new system will better protect our citizens and visitors when extreme rain events occur," said Hot Springs Mayor Mike Bush. "Citizens who are signed up for CodeRED weather notification will receive advance warning by phone of anticipated local flood conditions."
"This flood information system will provide the City of Hot Springs, the National Weather Service, the public, and local emergency personnel with timely information about individual rainfall events and critical data needed for early warning of imminent floods, thus minimizing impacts on human life and property. The system will also provide long-term information to water-resources planners associated with Hot Springs and other urban areas of Arkansas," said, Bob Blanchard, a hydrologist with the USGS Arkansas Water Science Center in Little Rock.
"It has been the mission of the National Weather Service to protect life and property from weather related hazards since 1870. These gauges will be another tool we can use to assess the possible dangers of a heavy rainfall event and how it may impact this watershed within the City of Hot Springs," said Steve Bays, Service Hydrologist at the NWS Office in Little Rock.
"On an annual basis, flooding claims more lives than tornadoes or lightning," Bays added.
The USGS operates a network of more than 140 streamgauges throughout Arkansas and provides this real-time information to NWS, where it is used for flood forecasting and to notify emergency managers. Field personnel collect data or the gauges relay it through satellites to offices where it is processed automatically in near-real time. In many cases, the data are available online within minutes.