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USGS Crews Measure Flooding in NC, SC, GA and FL

October 9, 2016

Reporters: Do you want to accompany a USGS field crew as they measure flooding or retrieve storm-tide sensors?

- In North Carolina, contact Jeanne Robbins,, 919-571-4017 

- In South Carolina, contact John Shelton,, 803-767-5542

- In Georgia contact Brian McCallum,, 678- 924-6672

- In Florida contact Richard Kane,, 813-918-1275

Screenshot of USGS Precipitation gauge data in North Carolina
This screenshot shows a map with U. S. Geological Survey precipitation gauge data for North Carolina. USGS rain gauges across the south east have been collecting data from the torrential rains Hurricane Matthew has brought, such as the 16.7 inches measured over two days in Tar Heel, North Carolina. USGS photo. 

U.S. Geological Survey crews are in the field from Florida to Virginia retrieving the 393 storm sensors deployed prior to Hurricane Matthew’s arrival, and measuring flooding caused by the significant rain and storm surge the storm brought.

The researchers are collecting critical streamflow data and high-water marks that are vital for protection of life, property and the environment. These data are used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to validate the difference between wind and water damage, National Weather Service to develop flood forecasts, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to manage flood control, and the various state and local agencies in their flood response activities. 

  • In North Carolina today, where efforts are hampered by flooded roads, the USGS has 20 people out making stream flow measurements, measuring water quality and preparing to retrieve storm sensors and collect high-water marks, which will determine how high the water reached in various areas. Two additional USGS members from Virginia are helping the NC crews.   
  • In South Carolina today the USGS has 18 people out repairing streamgages damaged by the storm, measuring high flow in rivers, and working to retrieve storm sensors. An additional crew of 10 has come in from other USGS offices in Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee and Mississippi to help with collecting high-water marks
  • In Georgia today the USGS has 28 people out retrieving storm sensors and collecting high-water marks. Four of these members traveled from New Jersey to assist
  • In Florida the USGS has 39 people out today recovering storm sensors and collecting high water marks.

“We understand how important USGS streamgages are to communities, from their role in providing real-time information to their use in the National Weather Service’s flood forecasts,” said Athena Clark, assistant USGS Storm-Team leader. “When you add the information these streamgages provide to the information our storm-tide sensors and coastal change forecasts provide, you can see that the USGS is providing a fair amount of critical information that can be used by federal, state and local partners as we address the significant effects and hazards brought on by this storm.”

The information the USGS collects will not only help during this current flooding, but will provide better information if these levels are seen again in the future.

There are nearly 260 USGS-operated streamgages in North Carolina, and 174 in South Carolina, 357 in Georgia, and 557 in Florida that measure water levels, streamflow and rainfall. USGS crews will be following the flood downstream making discharge measurements until the floodwaters recede.

To learn about storm sensors used to document Hurricane Matthew and see their location, explore the USGS Coastal Change Hazard Portal, or see satellite imagery before and after the storm, visit the USGS Hurricane Matthew page.

For more than 125 years, the USGS has monitored flow in selected streams and rivers across the U.S. The information is routinely used for water supply and management, monitoring floods and droughts, bridge and road design, determination of flood risk and for many recreational activities.

Access current flood and high flow conditions across the country by visiting the USGS WaterWatch website. Receive instant, customized updates about water conditions in your area via text message or email by signing up for USGS WaterAlert.

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