South Atlantic Water Science Center (SAWSC)

Floods, Droughts, and Hurricanes

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USGS scientists working during the epic September 2009 flood in Georgia. Power Springs Creek (02336870)
March 8, 2018

A major element of the USGS mission is the documentation of the extent and magnitude of extreme hydrologic events, like floods and droughts. The South Atlantic Water Science Center is a leader in monitoring extreme water conditions, from droughts and falling groundwater levels to floods and storm-tide surges to water-quality problems.

Image: USGS Documents 2015 Western U.S. Drought
June 4, 2017

When rainfall is less than normal for several weeks, months, or years, the flow of streams and rivers declines, water levels in lakes and reservoirs fall, and the depth to water in wells increases. If dry weather persists and water-supply problems develop, the dry period can become a drought.

Information about drought
• Real-time drought maps:  Georgia  |  North Carolina  |  South Carolina

Hurricane Irene, satellite view, NASA
May 31, 2017

Hurricane Information for Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Image of storm surge
May 20, 2017

Preventing flood hazards, such as the hurricane induced storm surge, from becoming human disasters requires an understanding of the relative risks floods pose to specific communities and knowledge of the processes by which flood waters rise, converge, and abate. Historically, hurricane-induced storm tides have been documented through measurement of high-water marks left on structures or vegetation. However, these sources are not always reliable or accurate and do not provide quantitative information about the timing of the flooding, the sequencing of multiple paths by which the storm-surge waters arrived, or the magnitude of waves comprising floodwaters.

In response to these deficiencies, the U.S. Geological Survey – South Atlantic Water Science Center, in cooperation with various municipal, State, and Federal cooperators, uses four monitoring approaches for measuring the timing, magnitude, and duration of hurricane storm-surge dynamics. Two approaches utilize a fixed network of gage locations and two approaches utilize the temporary deployment of water-level sensors.

Measuring streamflow, Georgia
May 9, 2017

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) South Atlantic Water Science Center streamgage program is part of the nationwide program that provides streamflow information for a variety of purposes—including the protection of life and property, infrastructure design, recreational usage, and long-term trend assessment.

Flood inundation mapping locations in North and South Carolina
April 6, 2017

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has created flood-inundation maps for selected streamgage sites in North and South Carolina. These maps depict the approximate area that would be inundated at selected water levels, ranging from approximately top-of-bank to a selected maximum water level. The inundated areas depicted on these maps are approximate, and accuracy of the maps is a function of the accuracy of the topographic data and the hydraulic models on which the maps are based.

Application of the Coastal Salinity Index to Sites in Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico
March 18, 2017

A critical aspect of the uniqueness of coastal drought is the effects on the salinity dynamics of creeks, rivers, and estuaries. The location of the freshwater–saltwater interface along the coast is an important factor in the ecological and socioeconomic dynamics of coastal communities. Salinity is a critical response variable that integrates hydrologic and coastal dynamics including sea level, tides, winds, precipitation, streamflow, and tropical storms.

Evaluation of the Coastal Salinity Index (CSI) indicates that it provides additional coastal response information as compared to the SPI and the Palmer hydrologic drought index, and the CSI can be used for different estuary types and for comparison of conditions along coastlines.

Coastal Change Portal Hurricane Matthew 2016
February 22, 2017

As Hurricane Matthew moves up the Atlantic coast of the U.S., the USGS South Atlantic Water Science Center (SAWSC) deployed most of the USGS Storm-Tide Network along the Atlantic coast to monitor the timing, extent, and magnitude of the storm tide during the passage of Hurricane Matthew.

• Go to the USGS Hurricane Matthew Information Portal

Picture of a truck used to drill groundwater wells.
February 17, 2017

The multiyear drought in North and South Carolina (summer 1998-fall 2002) brought wide recognition of the vulnerability of the water resources in these two States to climatic conditions. To prepare for drought conditions in the future, water managers and State and Federal water-resource agencies sought to develop tools to assess hydrologic conditions in both a predictive and responsive manner. USGS partnered with the Catawba-Wateree Water Management Group to establish a monitoring network of near real-time streamflow gages (surface-water stage/discharge) and wells (groundwater levels), which are the essential components for assessing hydrologic conditions.

Dried up lake in Georgia - DroughtWatch
February 16, 2017

Find out about drought conditions in Georgia. Our page offers links to maps and data, as well as Georgia and National drought links, drought resources from other agencies, and pertinent publications.

Dried up lake in Georgia - DroughtWatch
February 16, 2017

Find out about drought conditions in South Carolina. Our page offers links to maps and data, as well as South Carolina drought links, drought resources from other agencies, and pertinent publications.