Stream Gauge Shutdown Ahead?
2/15/2013 (Updated 11:47:29 PM)Back on earth, and here in the Southern Tier, there's concern about getting adequate warning of another type of hazard, flooding.
Two weeks from now, stream gauges along the Susquehanna River Basin will be shut down-- and that, of course can affect flood forecasting, if funding to keep them running isn't made available. Fox40's Meteorologist Kate Thornton has that story.
As Conklin's supervisor, in one of the most flood prone watersheds in the nation, Debbie Preston gained plenty of experience monitoring dangerously high river levels along the Susquehanna River.
Now, as Broome County Executive, she's concerned once again.
"I don't know what they're thinking. We'll have to ask our federal representatives to please do the right thing. We're talking $215,000 for all the stream gauges. Why don't you just pass a bill so that these are constantly funded," said Broome County Executive Debbie Preston.
Both Congressman Richard Hanna and Senator Chuck Schumer have written to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association asking them to use a portion of the $25-million in Sandy Relief funds to keep the stream gauges running throughout 2013. If the funds are not made available by the March 1st deadline, the gauges will be shut down.
"What the gauge loss is going to do is take out a lot of known flow from all the rivers coming into the Susquehanna and the Susquehanna itself," said Jim Brewster, a hydrologist for the National Weather Service Binghamton Office.
In place of the gauges, computer models will simulate forecasts as a guidance and whatever gauges are still left will continue to provide data, but the validity of this information can be suspect.
"We're not going to be able to tell accurately how high the river level is going to get at the places without the gauges. We're going to get a number , we don't know if it is the right number," said Brewster.
Without automatic updates every 15 minutes, the National Weather Service will be forced to seek out volunteers to physically take river measurements. During a flooding or severe weather situation, that could be quite dangerous.
"You have to get volunteers or have the fire and police departments to have that task put on their already busy time during an emergency situation," said Brewster.
The National Weather Service isn't just losing out on rapid stream data, they will also lose a lot of rainfall data as well since many of the stream gauges threaten to be turned off have rain gauges located with them. And the first part of the flooding process, starts with the rain.
In Binghamton, Kate Thornton, Fox 40 HD News.
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