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Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center -- Louisiana

Picture of USGS employee in a Louisiana swamp.

LAWSC provides easy flood tracking on the web – 25 May 2007

Flooding is a concern for everyone in Louisiana. Floods demand immediate and decisive action by governmental entities, businesses, and individual citizens, all of whom have to make critical decisions that directly impact the extent, duration, and mitigation of losses resulting from flooding. How high will the water get? How long will the flood last? What areas will be affected? What roads will become unpassable? Will it reach my house? Should I move valuables out of my house? If so, when should I start? Should I consider evacuation? These are only a few examples of the questions that must be addressed when the threat of a flood arises.

In order to make sound decisions, current, accurate, and accessable data is necessary. Toward that end, the LAWSC has created interactive flood maps for selected regions of the state. These maps work in conjuction with our NWISWeb system to provide the public with a way to access near real-time waterway data and present these data in a way that is easy to use and understand. The interactive flood maps show key sites of a particular geographic or political area. By hovering the mouse cursor over a site on the flood map, the user is able to see at a glance the current stage and the flood stage (if it is known) at the site, as well as how that stage compares to the five highest recorded water levels from the past. Note that if the five historical peaks are all from very recent years (less than 10 years old), it is likely that the site is fairly new, and the peaks may not include a major flooding event simply because the site has not been around long enough. Clicking on a site on the flood map will link the user to the NWISWeb station page for that site, where they can view graphs and/or tables of the various parameters collected at that location.

While many of our sites have been around for a very long time and have historical data covering several major flooding events, there are also many others that are relatively new, and may not have any data at all that include major events. For this reason, it is likely that there are additional sites in an area that are not shown on these flood tracking maps. The sites we have included were specifically chosen because they were sites that have been historically used in flood tracking, have long histories with major flood events, and widespread public recognition. Newer sites that are included on the flood maps were typically chosen because they provide flood data in critical areas that previously did not have the information available until recently. To see all the sites available in Louisiana, we have provided a Google Earth interface that will display them in a graphical interface, and we also have a statewide summary page that simply lists the sites and has hyperlinks to NWISWeb station pages for all of the sites.

Currently, only the Amite-Comite river basins, Ascension Parish, and the Shreveport area (Caddo and Bossier parishes) are available. We are continually adding more areas, and eventually we hope to cover the entire state.

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