Central Arkansas is beginning to dry out, but the U.S. Geological Survey is trying to learn from the rising waters we saw last weekend. Early Tuesday morning they made their way across the Arkansas River.
They dressed in their warmest parkas against the below freezing temperatures; their goal was to find out exactly how fast the body of water is rushing.
Hydrologist Jim Petersen says, "Part of our mission is to collect data that agencies and the public will use to protect lives and property. So whenever there's a flood event we collect flow data, the amount of flow going down a stream at more than 100 sites across the state."
They drop a Doppler radar ball into the water that will follow the boat, then use a laser range finder to get the distance to the shore. With those numbers, data will pour into scientist's Marsha Gipson's laptop computer, while Jan Heavener captains the small boat.
The river is normally moving at 30,000 cubic feet per second, Tuesday readings tell them it's up to more than 200,000--a number they may see once every two years here.
A small craft advisory has been issued by the Corps of Engineers for the Arkansas River. So not only are the two ladies trying to gather scientific information they're also trying to keep the boat steady.
Gipson says, "We want people to make sure they don't get out and try this. Don.t try this at home."
They will take the week to punch their findings into computers, that will spit out more data---that will be used by all kinds of people; like bridge builders or cities trying to figure out how high to build their roads.
Petersen says, "Our people take a lot of pride in collecting reliable data for the state of Arkansas."
The U.S. Geological Survey also measures water quality. They'll be doing that later this week on Lake Maumelle - the area's water shed.