New USGS Map Provides Real-time Flood Data

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has developed an online, user-friendly map that tracks flood conditions. As expected rains drive flood waters higher along the Mississippi River Valley, USGS crews are in the field collecting data needed to update the flood maps, prepare forecasts, manage the flood, and warn communities.

This new system is part of the USGS WaterWatch suite of Web-based stream flow products and can be accessed at

"The water monitoring systems shown on this map help ensure timely and uninterrupted water information for forecasters, emergency managers, scientists, and the general public," says Robert Hirsch, USGS associated director for Water. "Improved flood monitoring and assessment will help reduce the risks to communities, property. and human life."

This real-time water monitoring is part of a continuing effort by the USGS to assist the National Weather Service (NWS) in making accurate and timely flood forecasts. During a flood, teams of USGS hydrographers travel to stream gauges to keep the instruments operating and to make crucial calibration measurements of the stream flow.

Other information available from the Web site for each stream gauge includes current flood levels, historical peaks, and NWS flood forecast information. Monthly flood reports that include maximum flows and compares the data to previous years that observations were made at each station also are available.

For more than 125 years, the USGS has monitored flow in selected streams and rivers. It collects data from more than 7,400 stream gauges, many of which provide real-time data in 15-minute increments. The information is routinely used for water supply and management, monitoring floods and droughts, bridge and road design, determination of flood risk, and for many recreational activities.

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