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February 2, 2024

An atmospheric river is a long narrow corridor of concentrated water vapor. Streamgages play a crucial role in an atmospheric river event by providing data used in monitoring and managing water resources, particularly in the context of flooding waterways. These devices offer real-time information on water levels in rivers and streams, enabling authorities to closely track changes in flow dynamics.

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Today, the USGS operates one of the largest streamgaging enterprises in the world, with more than 11,800 streamgages operating in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. Most USGS streamgages are funded in partnership with one or more of about 1,500 Federal, state, local and Tribal agencies and organizations. Each streamgage provides vital information that can help protect lives and property, as well as ensure adequate water supply for the future.  

A streamgage contains equipment that measures, stores and transmits data on water levels and streamflows. Most USGS streamgages transmit data via satellite to USGS computers on an hourly basis, or more frequently during emergency situations. The data are then made available online in near real-time through the USGS National Water Dashboard. Customizable updates about water conditions can also be received on the go by subscribing to USGS WaterAlert

USGS streamgage information can be used to meet diverse needs, including uses for water supply and management, monitoring floods and droughts, bridge and road design, determination of flood risk and many recreational activities. 


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