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Geological Survey Unveils Mobile Flood Tool

Screenshot of North Carolina from the USGS National Water Dashboard.

The U.S. Geological Survey has unveiled a new mobile tool that provides real-time information on water levels, weather and flood forecasts across the country, including North Carolina.

The USGS National Water Dashboard, or NWD, can be used by forecasters and local emergency managers as they issue flood and evacuation warnings, verify safe evacuation routes and coordinate emergency response efforts.

“Our vision is the National Water Dashboard will be a one-stop resource for all available USGS water data used by the public to make decisions that can preserve life and property,” said Jim Reilly, Ph.D., director of the USGS. “The USGS will continue to build out this tool incorporating future advances in water information so the public will have the latest and best information on hazards and resources.”

The dashboard presents real-time stream, lake and reservoir, precipitation and groundwater data from more than 13,500 USGS observation stations across the country. This information is shown along with NOAA weather data such as radar, watches and warnings, past precipitation totals, precipitation forecasts and drought conditions from other open water-data sources.

“The National Water Dashboard is an exceptional tool for staying up to date on real-time USGS water information coupled with forecasts and warnings from NOAA’s National Weather Service,” said retired Navy Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet, Ph.D., assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and deputy NOAA administrator. “Giving individuals access to water information whether it be a flood or drought, on their mobile device, will help protect lives and property.”

The tool will help inform forecasting, response and recovery efforts for agencies such as the National Weather Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other federal, state and local agencies.

“The National Water Dashboard is a much-needed advancement that will help keep communities across the country safe during extreme weather conditions,” said Tim Petty, Ph.D., Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, from an agricultural round table with the Water Subcabinet in Janesville, Wisconsin, in a statement. “The development of a comprehensive tool that can provide real-time, critical information on mobile devices is great news for areas in our country that are prone to flooding or drought. In addition to giving the public key information on what’s happening in their communities, it will also help improve the response of federal, state and local agencies during storms, floods and drought conditions.”

The dashboard links to the USGS WaterAlert system, which sends out instant, customized updates about water conditions.

“The National Water Dashboard builds on the USGS Texas Water Dashboard that was created in 2016,” said Don Cline, Ph.D, USGS Associate Director for Water Resources, said in a statement. “Expanding this tool nationwide will increase the ease and ability for the public to have access to USGS real-time water data at all times to help make informed decisions regarding the safety of their families and homes.”

The dashboard can assist the Corps with managing water supplies in river basins and operate flood-control reservoirs. During a drought, the tool can help state resource managers identify areas where water supplies are at risk.

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers values the continued partnership and active engagement within our Federal family,” said Chandra S Pathak, Policy Advisor and Senior Engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineering and Construction Division. “The new USGS National Water Dashboard is well suited to support the ever-evolving needs for increased hazard risk awareness and mitigation actions toward preparedness and response.

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Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.