USGS Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility
Water Data for the Nation
ABOUT THE HIF
USGS IN YOUR STATE
USGS Water Science Centers are located in each state.
USGS Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility (HIF)
US Geological Survey (USGS) Water Sensor and Housing
Example of Solid Metal Storm Surge Sensor Housing.
This water-level sensor consists of a measuring device inside a protective housing. The housing is typically constructed of a 2-inch diameter, metal (painted steel or perforated aluminum) pipe strapped to a pier, power pole, bridge support, or other fixed structure. The measuring device is a metal cylinder suspended or mounted inside the pipe. USGS water-level sensors typically record pressure and temperature readings during a storm and for several days afterwards. After the storm, the measuring device is removed from the housing and the data are retrieved.
This water-level sensor is likely one of two types: a Storm-Surge Sensor or a Storm-Wave Sensor, with the main difference between the two being how frequently the sensor records data. Storm-Surge Sensors typically collect a data record every 30 seconds. Storm-Wave Sensors typically collect a data record every 1/4 of a second.
USGS hydrographers deploy water-level sensors along the coast in advance of a major storms or hurricanes in order to monitor and record the magnitude, extent, and timing of storm surge and coastal flooding. In the case of Storm-Wave Sensors, the sensors also record the height and frequency of the storm-generated waves. This type of sensor also can be deployed deployed inland, away from coast, in order to document flooding, such as occurred in 2011 for the floods on the Mississippi River.
Information collected by USGS water-level sensors helps define the depth and duration of flooding, as well as the time of its arrival and retreat. The information also helps assess storm damage, discern between wind and flood damage, and improve computer models used to forecast future floods.
Sensor Housing ID Tags
Each sensor housing is identified with a small label containing a unique ID number.
For more information, please call 877-246-1373.
Storm Surge Sensor during Hurricane Irene at sites in North Carolina.
Photo 1: Storm Surge Sensor installed at site in Louisiana.
Photo 1: Example of Perforated Water Level Sensor with Aluminum Housing.