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Track Hurricane Isabel’s Flooding in Real-Time
Released: 9/17/2003

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communication
119 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
Diane Noserale 1-click interview
Phone: 703-648-4333

Butch Kinerney
Phone: 703-648-4732

Did you know that, from your desk, you can monitor the effect of rain from the impending Hurricane Isabel on streams throughout the already saturated mid-Atlantic region?

The U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) WaterWatch Web site can show you what’s happening to streams in your local area and show you the places most affected by heavy rains expected from this storm. Visit: http://water.usgs.gov/waterwatch/.

The map shows streamflows at USGS gaging stations nationwide. The colors represent real-time streamflow compared to historical daily streamflow for the day of the year. Click on your state which will zoom you in to streams and rivers. Roll your mouse over the dots to pick streams and click again on those dots to find real-time graphs and information on what the water is doing. Note that "record high flows" (also shown as black dots) are for record high flows for this date in history.

Most pages will also contain river and stream stage information and show at what water level rivers will overflow their banks. That information is important for a number of reasons. Many places in the East are already experiencing above-average streamflows and it won’t take much rain to push rivers outside their banks.

USGS provides this real-time information to the National Weather Service, where it’s used for flood forecasting, as well as to state and local emergency managers to give them an early indication of where trouble spots will arise. And even though the rain may end, flooding may continue for many days after the storm has passed. As the principal source of data on river depth and flow, USGS operates a network of more than 8,000 stream gages throughout the U.S. Field personnel collect data, or the gages relay it through telephones or satellites to offices where it is processed automatically in near real time.

USGS hydrologists, landslide experts, coastal erosion experts are all working throughout the storm and afterward to provide the high-quality scientific information managers need to make the right decisions today and in the future to protect communities from future storms.

For more information on USGS storm-related activities, visit: http://www.usgs.gov/hurricanes/stormsites.html.

The USGS serves the nation by providing reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; and enhance and protect our quality of life.

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Page Last Modified: 9/17/2003