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Along the northeast coast of Puerto Rico, USGS hydrologic technician Francisco Almanzar surveys reference elevation points to ensure the accuracy of water level data. (USGS)

The U.S. Geological Survey is installing storm-tide sensors today in the Florida Keys to assist with data collection as Hurricane Irma approaches. Nine other sensors were installed in Puerto Rico on Labor Day, Sept. 4, and USGS plans to make further installations on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of Florida Thursday and Friday.

Crews stand ready to install as many as 100 additional sensors in Florida. The sensors can collect data on the height and intensity of the storm surge before high winds and water arrive.

USGS says the new measurements of storm surge will help with forecasting surge-related flooding, help engineers design better storm-resistant structures and increase the efficacy and safety of emergency responders. To monitor water levels of inland rivers and streams, USGS will use instruments called streamgages to forecast flooding.

USGS maintains a Streamgaging Network of operating sensors to record water levels on inland streams and rivers throughout the U.S., which provides real-time data to the National Weather Service, FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others. Normally used for non-emergency activities like managing water supplies and planning roads, bridges and recreational activities, during a storm threat the nation-wide network helps inform evacuation decisions and emergency response, as well as capturing landfall, time, depth, duration and retreat of storm-surge.

Crews are also preparing to forecast coastal change—the overwashing of dunes by high waters that relocates shorelines and changes the shape of islands—both at the local level and along the entire coastal zone in the hurricane’s path. Forty-eight hours after the storm, the USGS Coastal Change Hazards Portal will contain information about forecasted coastal change.

Those potentially in the path of the storm can visit www.ready.gov (English) or www.listo.gov (Spanish) for information on creating emergency plans and further information.

Further information on the storm can be found at he National Hurricane Center.

Storm Data:

USGS Flood Event Viewer

USGS Event Support—IRMA

This U.S. Geological Survey Storm-Tide Sensor was one of nine sensors deployed around Puerto Rico prior to Hurricane Irma. (USGS)