The United States Geological Service (USGS) has introduced a new, real-time, web-based, all-purpose water app called “Water On the Go” that enhances situational awareness. The new GPS-aware, web app locates flood gages in 360 degrees around your current location within a user-defined radius.
Water On The Go provides real-time information throughout Texas for:
- stream flows
- lake levels
Water On the Go also allows users to have alerts sent to them whenever the gages exceed user-defined parameters. For instance, if the gage at the West Fork and US59 exceeded X feet in height or Y cubic feet per second, the app would text an alert to your cell phone or email you (your choice).
How Water On the Go Works
The app automatically finds data near your current location (or any chosen location in Texas) for rapid access to water information. When you first enter the app, you are in preference pane that lets you define the type of information you are looking for. From there, you enter a map view like the one below. The app finds your location (or lets you select one. Then it automatically locates gages around you. Icons pop up representing each of the gages.
Special icons indicate rapidly rising streams and lakes or heavy rain that may pose a flood risk. Note the red triangles in the image above.
When you click on any gage, you can dig down to more information about the water at that location, including current water levels, a graph of levels in recent days, and links to more data and information.
Deceptively Deep (No Pun Intended)
The Water on the Go app is deceptively deep. It provides a wealth of historical information in graphic formats that make it easy to understand and convenient to use.
This is definitely a site that you will want to bookmark during hurricane season. In one place you can find information that used to be scattered all over the web.
I have only one suggestion. The mobile experience needs to be enhanced. Smaller screen sizes hamper functionality somewhat. The app works like a dream on desktops and laptops. It works well on tablets. But on cell phones, it can be a bit of a struggle to pinpoint locations with fat fingers. Of course, I had GPS tracking on my phone turned off for privacy reasons. I’m sure it works much better with GPS tracking turned on.
For Flood Warnings, Fishermen and More
I expect that most members of the public would find this app especially valuable in several situations.
- When approaching storms dump massive rainfalls upstream, you could see floods coming downstream at you and monitor the closest gages to determine whether and when you should evacuate..
- When boating, you can set lake an stream level alerts to warn you when water levels drop below minimums.
- When traveling vacationing, as I was during Harvey, you could use the app to navigate around trouble spots and check whether your home is in danger.
- When you have friends, relatives or children whom you are concerned about in another location, you can check their safety at a glance.
The app even lets you monitor water temp, oxygen levels and turbidity – factors that fishermen could find valuable.
This application was developed by the U.S. Geological Survey Texas Water Science Center Data and Spatial Studies group and is fueled by USGS Water Services.
My thanks to Diane Cooper for alerting me to this new tool. Diane is a FEMA employee who has more than 20 years of experience forecasting floods and weather for the National Weather Service.
As I was composing this post on Sunday evening, I received a text alert from Jeff Lindner of Harris County Flood Control. He warned that parts of Spring and Little Cypress Creeks might be coming out of their banks. I checked them with the app about an hour later. Sure enough, the gages for those creeks indicated trouble exactly where he indicated.
Check out Water on the Go. Better yet, bookmark it and sign up for alerts.
Posted May 21, 2018 by Bob Rehak
265 Days since Hurricane Harvey