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Early Flood Warning

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Early Flood Warning

Whatcom County Public Works River and Flood Division maintains a network of early flood warning stations.  These stations consist of United States Geological Survey (USGS) SNOTEL stationgaging stations and United States Department of Agriculture National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Snow Telemetry Sites (SNOTEL).

The USGS provides stream flow data for five locations for the Nooksack River watershed basin.

The information, secured through this satellite network of stream-gaging stations, provides Whatcom County, Washington Department of Emergency Management, Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Weather Service, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), and others with information necessary to determine potential flood threat for the Nooksack River basin.  This same data can also be used for a number of other water quality, quantity, habitat, and land use issues.

Maps and data reports are available from the NRCS,   Washington State Cooperative Snow, Water, and Climate Services Program.  This information, combined with information from the National Weather Service and USGS, help forecasters develop a picture of present storm conditions and potential flood effects.

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS) provides specific information on weather patterns and how the weather patterns are predicted to affect the local environment.  The NWS issues specific levels of warning (flood watch, flood warning) that can be used to develop into an action plan by local and state agencies.

Public Works River and Flood Division provides local agencies and private citizens with information that will enable them to take appropriate measures to protect lives and property from flood damages.  The Early Flood Warning System allows impacted citizens to make rational judgments for their own safety and protection.  It further allows a coordinated and effective response to the flood threat.  In addition to monitoring by staff, private citizens can check the stream gages via the Internet to stay informed of current flood levels. Sample data available on the internet

Each year there is the potential for approximately 5000 properties within the floodplain to be adversely affected by weather patterns and snowmelt.  Maintenance of the EFWS stations (rain gages, stream gages, and Snotel sites), and interpretation of the data gathered make predictions of flood potential, magnitude, and timing possible.  The real time information is distributed to the public through news bulletins and press releases to the media and updated on the incident hotline throughout the flood event.  The predictions are also used to develop the county flood fight response during floods.