Measuring a flooded Clinch River

POSTED: 5:03 PM Jan 17 2013   UPDATED: 6:41 PM Jan 17 2013
SCOTT COUNTY, Va. -

Scott County 911 received calls this afternoon of a boat on the swollen Clinch River that looked as though it was stranded, but it wasn't.

It was a team from the U.S. Geological Survey measuring how high and fast the water is so folks down river know what's coming their way.

No one in their right mind would get out in the fast-flowing Clinch River in a boat as it nears flood stage. But they would, and that would be the U.S. Geological Survey as they gather data on just how high the river is and how fast its flowing.

"What we're checking is the actual flow of the river, how much water is coming down. So what we do is we come out every six weeks and we make measurements so we can say this is how much water you have, this is how much discharge you have at a certain gauge height," Dennis Adams with the USGS said.

Those gauges are stationed up and down the river but to know how fast it's flowing, you have to get out there and use a special device. Especially when there is so much water flowing so fast. "You've got the gauge height versus discharge relationship. It's not every day you get at the upper end of the rating like we have today. When you get an opportunity to get one that's high, we make an effort to get them," Adams says.

The water in your backyard maybe going down, but all of that water usually winds up in our rivers. "Roads being closed and debris coming down the river and we like to be on a bridge if we can safely do it and have good conditions to do it," Adams said.

But it wasn't a good day with good conditions, but the data they collect is a valuable tool in helping to keep people safe.

You can find all of the information collected on the survey's web site, usgs.gov.