Why do some real-time streamgaging stations stop transmitting data for extended periods of time?

The USGS usually corrects any equipment or station problems within a few days of their occurrence. Occasionally, replacement parts or equipment might not be readily available, or a station might be inaccessible due to weather conditions.

Most USGS stream-gaging stations are operated in cooperation with other agencies. At some stations, the stage transmitting equipment is owned and maintained by other agencies to support their particular public missions. Those agencies might be limited in personnel, parts, or funds to maintain the equipment all of the time.

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Why does the USGS use the spelling "gage" instead of "gauge"?

The spelling of “gage” is part of our very rich USGS history. In 1888, USGS Director John Wesley Powell met a very forward-thinking graduate student named Frederick H. Newell. Powell was so impressed that he made Newell the first full-time appointee to the new Irrigation Survey, which was created to investigate the potential for dams and canals in...

Does "stage" tell you how much water is flowing in a stream?

Not directly. You cannot say that because a stream rises (doubles) from a 10-foot stage to a 20-foot stage that the amount of flowing water also doubles. Think of a cereal bowl with a rounded bottom. Pour one inch of milk in it. It doesn't take much milk to make it up to the one inch level because the bowl is at its narrowest near the bottom. Now...

Why are there sometimes differences between USGS and National Weather Service river stages?

At some USGS stream-gage installations, NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) maintains a separate stage sensor that is serviced by NWS technicians. Calibration of any sensing device can occasionally drift from a "true" value, so there might be differences between USGS and NWS data reports. USGS personnel visit installations on an interval of 6...

What does the term "stream stage" mean?

Stream stage is an important concept when analyzing how much water is moving in a stream at any given moment. "Stage" is the water level above some arbitrary point in the river and is commonly measured in feet. For example, on a normal day when no rain has fallen for a while, a river might have a stage of 2 feet. If a big storm hits, the river...

Why might USGS streamflow data be revised?

Real-time USGS streamflow data are PROVISIONAL, meaning that the data have not been reviewed or edited. These data might be subject to significant change and are not official until reviewed and approved by the USGS. Real-time streamflow data can be affected by: backwater from ice or debris such as log jams algae and aquatic growth in the stream...

Sometimes the USGS real-time stage data seems too high (or too low). Are the USGS data inaccurate?

There can be occasional equipment or database problems where erroneous data are reported for short periods of time until corrections can be made. This is why it is important to look at a record of streamflow (like the 7-day hydrograph plots) rather than a single point in time. However, most of the time the USGS has a high level of confidence in...

Where can I get real-time and historical streamflow information?

The best starting point for USGS streamflow data is the interactive National Water Information System (NWIS): Mapper website. Zoom in to your area of interest or use the search options in the left navigation window. The map displays active surface-water sites by default, but you can change the type of water site (surface-water, groundwater,...

How often are real-time streamflow data updated?

USGS real-time streamflow data are typically recorded at 15-minute intervals, stored onsite, and then transmitted to USGS offices once every hour, depending on the data relay technique used. Recording and transmission times might be more frequent during critical events (floods, for example). Data from current sites are relayed to USGS offices via...

How do we benefit from USGS streamgages?

Information on the flow of rivers is a vital national asset that safeguards lives, protects property, and ensures adequate water supplies for the future. The USGS is the federal agency responsible for operating a network of about 7,000 streamgages nationwide. Data from this network are used by water managers, emergency responders, utilities,...
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Date published: May 11, 2017

New Real-Time Streamgage, Reservoir, and Precipitation Sites

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) operates a network of real-time streamgages that continually record stage and streamflow every 15 to 60 minutes. 

Date published: February 1, 2017

The Vital Nature of Streamgaging

Gary Moore spent the last three days of 2015 stacking hefty bags of sand in front of a fellow church member’s brick home. With only 1,000 feet between the house and the swelling Mississippi and Meramec Rivers, Moore and other volunteers worked quickly, in frigid temperatures, to assemble a 10-foot high, 1,000-foot-long sandbag wall to ward off floodwaters.

Date published: April 22, 2014

First USGS Streamgage Records 125 Years of Measuring New Mexico’s Vital Water Resources

In 1889, the foundation for modern water management began on the Rio Grande in Embudo, N.M. Today, 125 years later, a celebration was held to honor the first U.S. Geological Survey streamgage in the picturesque town located 43 miles outside of Santa Fe.

Date published: April 18, 2014

New Mexico Streamgage Marks 125 Years of Running Strong

The first USGS streamgage in the country is turning 125 years old, and the U.S. Geological Survey, along with many partner agencies, is commemorating the event on Tuesday, April 22, with a celebration at the Embudo streamgage near Espanola.

Filter Total Items: 12
Snowmibiles needed to get to Blackrock Creek streamgage
January 4, 2018

Snowmibiles needed to get to Blackrock Creek streamgage

Snowmibiles needed to get to Blackrock Creek streamgage

Image shows a USGS scientist in a PFD servicing a streamgage
August 31, 2017

Servicing a Streamgage at Addicks Reservoir following Hurricane Harvey

USGS scientist Jimmy Hopkins repairs a streamgage downstream of Addicks reservoir at Buffalo Bayou after flooding from Hurricane Harvey. This gauge is normally accessed on land from a platform on the side of a bridge.

Image shows a USGS scientist in a PFD servicing a streamgage
August 29, 2017

Servicing a Streamgage at Barker Reservoir Following Hurricane Harvey

USGS scientist Tom Pistillo wades through the waters of Barker Reservoir to ensure accurate reservoir water-level data are being measured, which are critical for helping the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Harris County Flood Control District make informed reservoir operation decisions.

A USGS Hydrologic Technician installs a new streamgage
February 23, 2017

A USGS Hydrologic Technician installs a new streamgage

U.S. Geological Survey Hydrologic Technician Patrick Anzman installs a new streamgage February 23 over the Schuylkill River in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Manayunk. Photo by Mason Manis, USGS. 

A USGS hydrologic technician installs a Rapid Deployment Gauge in Florida in preparation for Hurricane Matthew.
October 8, 2016

A USGS hydrologic technician installing a Rapid Deployment Gauge

A USGS hydrologic technician installs a Rapid Deployment Gauge in Florida in preparation for Hurricane Matthew. USGS photo

Ray Dupuis, U.S. Geological Survey hydrologic technician, begins to repair a USGS streamgage in Homosassa Springs State Park, Fl
September 2, 2016

Repairing a streamgage

Ray Dupuis, U.S. Geological Survey hydrologic technician, begins to repair a USGS streamgage in Homosassa Springs State Park, Florida, that was damaged by storm surges brought by Hurricane Hermine. Photo by Don Hampton, USGS. 

Image: Flooded Streamgage on the Gasconade River
December 29, 2015

Flooded Streamgage on the Gasconade River

Why did that USGS streamgage go down?! Well, because it got flooded, most likely. As floodwaters rise, sometimes they inundate our streamgages. We repair them as quickly as possible so they get their data back up and running.

In fact, in some instances, we have enough lead time to get the instrumentation in the streamgage as high as possible to prevent it from being

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Attribution: Natural Hazards
December 11, 2012

Streamflow Gaging Station and Measurement on San Pedro River, AZ

USGS employee, Hanna Coy, talks about stream gauging.

USGS Streamgage Destroyed by Flood Flows
July 1, 2011

Flood Waters Take USGS Streamgage Wind River near Crowheart, WY

Gagehouse at 06225500 Wind River near Crowheart WY right before it washed away.

Jul 01 2011; 13,900 ft3/s

October 14, 2009

Streamgages: The Silent Superhero

Whether you drink water from your tap, use electricity or canoe down your local river, chances are you benefit from USGS streamgage information. So what is a streamgage and what does it do for you? This CoreCast episode gives you the inside scoop on your silent superhero.

Transcript and captions available soon.

Image: Solar-Powered Streamgage
October 2, 2008

Solar-Powered Streamgage

Solar-powered streamgage in Swiftcurrent Creek at Many Glacier, Montana.