Groundwater and Streamflow Information Program

Water Hazards

A critical application of USGS streamflow information is safeguarding communities from natural hazards. The Groundwater and Streamflow Information Program promotes the development and application of information and tools to minimize the loss of life and property due to hazards, including supporting flood forecasting, monitoring debris flows and storm surge during floods and hurricanes, and informing drought and post-fire conditions. The USGS WaterWatch website provides streamgage-based maps that highlight locations where floods and droughts are occurring. In addition to permanent streamgages, the USGS continues to expand the use of temporary Rapid Deployable Streamgages (RDGs) and storm-tide sensors, as well as enhance flood inundation mapping capabilities. The USGS Flood Event Viewer provides a one-stop application for partners and the public to view all data collected for a particular event, including real-time streamflow information and post event high-water marks. Furthermore, the USGS Floods website provides access to a range of USGS tools and datasets for current and past events. The USGS Groundwater Watch website provides current groundwater-level data for selected wells and includes a map of wells with below normal groundwater levels. The USGS Drought website provides access to the USGS Integrated Drought Science Plan, as well as to drought-related datasets that include basic hydrologic monitoring data from the Groundwater and Streamflow Information Program.


Below, please find several highlights of recent streamflow monitoring accomplishments and planned activities.

  • In 2018, USGS installed and surveyed 145 storm-tide sensor brackets throughout the Gulf of Mexico to facilitate deployment of storm-tide sensors in advance of hurricanes and expedite the recovery of data following a hurricane to document the timing, extent, and magnitude of the hurricane storm surge.
  • ​In 2018, soon after the Gulf of Mexico storm-tide sensor network was established, the USGS responded to Hurricane Michael, which made landfall along the Florida Panhandle as the 3rd strongest hurricane on record to hit the mainland of the United States. USGS worked closely with the National Weather Service (NWS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) State Emergency Management Divisions (EMDs) and Departments of Transportation (DOTs), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and local law enforcement to provide information needed to inform response decisions related to the hurricane. USGS installed 5 Rapid Deployment Gages, 34 storm-tide sensors and flagged over 500 high-water marks to provide information vital to people making decisions about public safety (access and download the data). 
  • In 2018, the USGS responded to Hurricane Florence and worked closely with NWS, FEMA, State EMDs and DOTs, USACE, and local law enforcement to provide information needed to inform response decisions related to the hurricane. USGS installed 32 Rapid Deployment Gages, 160 storm-tide sensors, flagged over 500 high-water marks (access and download the data) and have made more than 140 high-flow streamflow measurements to provide information vital to people making decisions about public safety.
  • In 2018, Hurricane Harvey flood monitoring data was supplemented by a published report of detailed flood information, including the magnitude of the flood, the probability of occurrence and the extent of the flood in Texas.
  • In 2018, flood inundation maps were developed for 12 locations in cooperation with States, localities, and Tribes, contributing to a total of 243 maps spanning 6 different States.

Stakeholder Quotes

“Gaging stations are critical for being next to the river.”
Bill Bergin, Jr., Musselshell River Landowner and Musselshell Watershed Coalition [Montana] Board Member

“Many thanks…we sincerely appreciate your [USGS] support. Your data make our [river] forecasts possible.”
Kevin Low, National Weather Service, Missouri River Basin Forecast Center Hydrologist, May 25, 2018