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Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many water gauges are there?
    There are over 9,000 water gauges located in the United States.
  • Where are the water gauges located?
    The water gauges are scattered throughout the United States. Generally speaking states that are more susceptible to flooding or have lots of waterways usually have more gauges.
  • Who maintains the water gauges?
    The gauges are maintained by federal government agencies including USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).
  • When was the first gauge used?
    The first gauge was used in 1889 on the Rio Grande River in New Mexico to help determine if there was adequate water to support irrigation and western expansion.
  • Where does the water gauge data come from?
    The observation data is collected on site by a water gauge and then transmitted to USGS/NOAA. River Owl then collects the data from USGS/NOAA.

    The forcast data is provided by National Weather Service forecast centers. River Owl then collects the data from USGS/NOAA.
  • How often is water gauge data updated?
    There's some variability to the frequency in which observation data and forecast data is updated. All observation data points in the chart represent when an observation was made. If/when a forecast is available we present the date and time the forecast was made. Like all weather forecasts they are subject to change at any moment as dynamic weather events unfold.
  • How come there's no water forecast for my water gauge?
    The National Weather Service only seems to issue forecasts on waterways that are prone to reoccurring flooding and have a widespread impact on people. Some water gauges may always have forecast data available while others may only have forecast data when a flood event is expected.
  • What do the High/Low markers in the chart represent?
    The High/Low markers represent the highest/lowest data points across both the observation and forecast (assuming there is one) data.
  • What timezone do the dates and times in the water gauge chart represent?
    All dates and times in the water gauge chart are local the water gauge.
  • Is River Owl affiliated with any government agency?
    No, River Owl isn't affiliated with any government agency.
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