USGS Installing Rapid-Deployment Gauges in Virginia for Florence

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To learn more about USGS’ role providing science to decision makers before, during and after Hurricane Florence, visit the USGS Hurricane Florence page at

A USGS hydrologic technician installs a Rapid-Deployment Gauge on a bridge in Norfolk, Virginia.

Jim Duda, USGS hydrologic technician, installs a Rapid-Deployment Gauge near the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, Virginia, to monitor elevated water levels caused by Hurricane Jose during the 2017 hurricane season. An RDG is a fully functional streamgage designed to be quickly deployed for real-time data monitoring of a stream or river in emergency situations. RDGs are indispensable tools used for flood forecasting by augmenting existing streamgage networks by adding temporary gauges to the network, providing situational awareness and support to emergency managers. Photo by Howard Ross, USGS. (Public domain.)

Hurricane response crews from the U.S. Geological Survey are installing rapid-deployment gauges at key locations along the Virginia coast, from Gwynn’s Island to Sandbridge, in advance of Hurricane Florence. Under a mission assignment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the USGS plans to deploy 7 RDGs in coastal Virginia and 2 in Roanoke, and is consulting with federal and state partners about the need for similar equipment for other coastal areas along the mid-Atlantic coast.

Rapid deployment gauges are being installed at critical locations that may be impacted by flooding, but where the USGS does not have permanent streamgages. These specialized gauges can be quickly installed on bridges to provide real-time information on water levels and weather information and augment a network of 250 streamgages in Virginia that provide critical information to the National Weather Service, FEMA and other USGS partners involved in issuing flood and evacuation warnings and in coordinating emergency responses to communities. Information on the rapid-deployment gauges and the real-time data they provide will be available on the USGS “Flood Event Viewer” at

The USGS studies the impacts of hurricanes and tropical storms to better understand potential impacts on coastal areas and inland impact of flooding on communities. Information provided through the sensor networks provides critical data for more accurate modeling and prediction capabilities and allows for improved structure designs and response for public safety.

As the USGS continues to take all appropriate preparedness and response actions in response to Hurricane Florence, those ­­­in the storm’s projected path can visit or for tips on creating emergency plans and putting together an emergency supply kit.