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New tool to help you paddle on local rivers

USGS Streamflow and gauge data made available online

You can check real-time information on water levels, local weather observations, and flood forecasts all in one place on a computer, smartphone or other mobile device.
You can check real-time information on water levels, local weather observations, and flood forecasts all in one place on a computer, smartphone or other mobile device. (wjxt)

It can be tiring paddling on a river when the currents are swift.

A new mobile tool could help you find the best conditions for a day on the water by checking flow conditions and river gauge levels from the U.S. Geological Survey.

In addition to real-time information on water levels, you can check local weather observations and flood forecasts all in one place on a computer, smartphone or other mobile device.

Several local sites including the Ortega River and Black Creek show this month’s elevated water conditions. A user can compare various dates in the past to current streamflow rates and heights.

Stream flow rates on Ortega River
Stream flow rates on Ortega River

The fastest water flow on the Ortega River this year was June 7, reaching 1340 cubic feet per second (cfs) and throughout the summer water levels remained higher than average.

The green spike was last summers 13 ft flood on Black Creek from heavy August rain. Brown line compares this years gauge fluctuations.
The green spike was last summers 13 ft flood on Black Creek from heavy August rain. Brown line compares this years gauge fluctuations. (.)

It is important to remember the flow in cfs measures the volume of water passing a given point in one second, not the speed.

That’s because the speed at any given point can be very different from the speed at a point just a few feet upstream or downstream depending on the size of the river’s width and depth.

A high discharge on a broad deep river would result in low velocity yet for a small creek-sized river it could be too dangerous to paddle.

During flood events, the new USGS National Water Dashboard can provide information that can help protect lives and property.

“The National Water Dashboard is an exceptional tool for staying up to date on real-time USGS water information coupled with forecasts and warnings from NOAA’s National Weather Service,” said retired Navy Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet, Ph.D., assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and deputy NOAA administrator. “Giving individuals access to water information whether it be a flood or drought, on their mobile device, will help protect lives and property.”


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