New Tide Gauges Installed Along Virginia Beach’s Coastline

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Virginia Beach residents and local emergency managers have a new tool to monitor storm tides and flooding this hurricane season with the installation of 10 new tide gauges by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Virginia Beach residents and local emergency managers have a new tool to monitor storm tides and flooding this hurricane season with the installation of 10 new tide gauges by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The gauges, installed in cooperation with the city of Virginia Beach, became fully operational April 21st, and the real time water height data they provide is invaluable to city administrators, emergency planners and the public.

City officials will be able to use this data during future storms to make emergency decisions, such as road closures and evacuation orders, said Shaun Wicklein, a supervisory hydrologist with the USGS Virginia-West Virginia Water Science Center. Tide gauge data can also be used by city planners to help protect the shoreline from erosion, and to better prepare city infrastructure for future flooding, he added.

The information gathered by the tide gauges, while always valuable, is most useful when the gauges are placed in prime locations to collect data. Therefore, the USGS and city of Virginia Beach worked together to pick the locations for these 10 tide monitoring stations based on their susceptibility to flooding caused by heavy rains and coastal storms.

“We worked with the city to determine the best locations for these gauges,” said Wicklein. “They had an idea where their critical needs were, areas that were most effected by flooding, and we took that information combined with our expertise to locate the best sites for monitoring.”

While these tide gauges provide valuable data to the city of Virginia Beach, others will benefit from the information as well, which is available on the USGS National Water Information System webpage.

The water level and meteorological data these gauges share is used by the National Weather Service to assist with their flood warnings, and can help community and emergency planners determine the best evacuation routes, among other things. Boaters, fishermen and others heading to the beach will also find the information of use to determine conditions before they head to the shore.

“These gauges allow us to collect accurate, real-time data which we will use to compile a long-term data base of vital information,” said Drew Lankford, media and communications representative for the city of Virginia Beach. “This data is very helpful for all residents and businesses in flood prone zones and will help them prepare for storm events.”

For more than 125 years, the USGS has monitored flow in selected streams, rivers and coastlines across the United States and does so in cooperation with over 850 federal, state and local agencies.