Floods and Droughts
Programs L2 Landing Page
We are the Nation's primary provider of information on water. The bulk of the our activities related to floods and droughts are carried out through programs within the Water Mission Area. Web portals make it possible to view current water conditions and where floods and droughts are occurring.
Aquatic Systems Branch scientists analyze rings of riparian trees relating tree growth and establishment to historical flow. We then use the tree rings to reconstruct the flow in past centuries. Flow reconstructions discover the frequency and magnitude of past droughts and floods—information that is essential for management of rivers and water supplies. We also use downscaled climate...
Drought is killing riparian trees along many rivers in the western United States. The cause can be increasing temperature or decreasing precipitation, flow or water-table elevation. At multiple locations we are relating water availability to physiological measurements of tree survival and water stress, such as ring width, carbon stable isotope ratio and branch hydraulic conductivity. These...
Riparian ecologists in the AS Branch study interactions among flow, channel change, and vegetation along rivers across the western United States and worldwide. Our work focuses on issues relevant to the management of water and public lands, including dam operation, climate change, invasive species, and ecological restoration. Investigations take place on a range of scales. For example,...
One of the critical roles that USGS personnel play in their day-to-day activities is to respond in a timely and professional manner to floods that can occur at any time of the year and for a variety of reasons. The Flood Science Capability Team examines the cause and effect...
In the late summer of 2005, the remarkable flooding brought by Hurricane Katrina, which caused more than $200 billion in losses, constituted the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. However, even in typical years, flooding causes billions of dollars in damage and threatens lives and property in every State.
This website brings together information about current and past flooding and USGS flood-focused resources. The USGS provides practical, unbiased information about the Nation's rivers and streams that is crucial in mitigating hazards associated with floods.
The USGS Flood Inundation Mapping Program has two main functions: 1) partner with local communities to assist with the development and validation of flood inundation map libraries; and 2) provide online access to flood inundation maps along with real-time streamflow data, flood forecasts, and potential loss estimates.
Maps of flood and high flow conditions within the U.S.
Where in the Nation are droughts or very low flows occurring now? How can I see these sites on a map and get to the data?
Before a hurricane, USGS Scientists undertake a data collection effort of a grand scale. They install a temporary mobile network of sensors along the coasts to collect additional data on the intensity of storm surge, one of the most dangerous elements of a hurricane. This effort provides critical information that allows various USGS partners and emergency responders to make better informed decisions during and after these extreme weather events. https://www.usgs.gov/hurricanes
The Arizona Water Science Center details the history and development of the Continuous Slope-Area Method. Learn about the people and events that began these new advances in the field of stream gaging.
Music Artist: Glenn Jones, “Bergen County Farewell”. CC License. Music provided by www.FreeMusicArchive.com
The Arizona Water Science Center demonstrates new methods in Reach-Scale Monitoring to improve accuracy and measurability of high flow events. By installing pressure transducers and using LiDAR to measure topography data, hydrologists are able to simulate flows with two dimensional models which will help better calibrate stream gages. These advances have potential to aid in gathering important hydrologic data in hard to access locations.
Filmed and Edited by Corey Shaw
Music Aritst: Cory Gray, “Technological 1-5”.
Music provided by www.FreeMusicArchive.com
This video will provide a brief history and purpose for one of the oldest streamgages in Indiana. The gage is at the Wabash River at Lafayette, Indiana. The site number is 03335500. This video was produced at the request of the West Lafayette Parks Department where this historic gage is located. A QR code is displayed on an interpretive plaque next to the gage which is located in a high profile location within a city park adjacent to Purdue University. Park visitors can view a brief video on their smart phone which will educate them on the history of the gage and provide them with information on how to obtain current readings. The USGS WaterAlert text or email notifications is also featured. Our goal is to better educate the public on the importance of USGS streamgages in Indiana and the data we provide to the nation.
Some material in this video is copyrighted and for use by USGS only. Contact Producer for details.
Daniel McCay and Chris Henry, U.S. Geological Survey hydrologic technicians, search a neighborhood south of Denham Springs, Louisiana, for high-water marks August 26. The term high-water mark refers to the debris flood waters will leave on walls, buildings and trees. This thin line of residue is an indicator of how high the waters reached, yet the fragile nature of these marks means they must be flagged as soon as possible. Because of this, more than 20 USGS personnel from several states have been working in south Louisiana from dawn until dusk to flag and survey as many high-water marks as possible.
Chris Henry and Daniel McCay, USGS hydrologic technicians, use GPS equipment to survey a high-water mark outside of a flooded elementary school in Denham Springs, Louisiana, August 28. This school was located in one of the hardest hit flood areas and the blue line simulates how high the water was at its peak during this historic flood.
Daniel McCay and Chris Henry, USGS hydrologic technicians, use a level to draw a line on a high-water mark August 26. In most circumstances, when a high-water mark is flagged it would then be surveyed with GPS equipment to obtain its exact coordinates and elevation. However, because of the possibility of more storms hitting Louisiana the teams were initially only flagging marks at first, in order to get as many as possible. Since Sunday, however, many of the teams have been returning to previously flagged high-water marks to start surveying them.
Jonathan Gillip, USGS hydrologist, documents a high-water mark he flagged near a damage retirement community in Denham Springs, Louisiana, August 26. So far, USGS teams have flagged and surveyed more than 400 high-watermarks across southern Louisiana.
The view on South Sherwood Forest Blvd near the USGS Louisiana Water Science Center office on August 15, 2016.
Flow along 4H Club Rd under I-12 on August 15, 2016.
Backwater flooding across Florida Blvd near the Amite River Bridge in Denham Springs, LA.
With hurricanes in the east and wildfires in the west, natural hazards have the potential to impact a majority of Americans every year. USGS science provides part of the foundation for emergency preparedness whenever and wherever disaster strikes.
The U. S. Geological Survey is poised to bring a dynamic array of science and tools to help decision-makers manage and offset effects of increased drought across the United States, according to a drought plan report released today.
You are invited to join USGS scientists and field technician crews as they collect discharge measurements in rainfall-affected areas.
After the floodwaters recede, the search for the high-water marks begins
September is National Preparedness Month, a time to highlight the resources available to help you and your loved ones stay as safe as possible.
The USGS response to the Louisiana floods is part of the larger USGS flood science mission...
Wonder what Backwater Flooding is? We've got your answer here...
All affected USGS scientists are alive and well, and our flood work continues...
Six streamgages Set peaks of record and 50 stations were overtopped by floodwaters.
A new streamgage recently installed by the U.S. Geological Survey in the city of Linton, Indiana, will provide continuous, real-time streamflow and water level data in an area that has demonstrated a need for reliable flood warning and flood-related data.
Are you and your family ready for the next disaster or emergency? Get tips by joining America’s PrepareAthon!
Join millions of people participating in America’s PrepareAthon! on Sept. 30. This campaign encourages the nation to conduct drills, discussions and exercises to practice what to do before, during and after a disaster or emergency strikes.