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USGS Streamgages Measure Major Flooding in South Dakota

Matt Ball on May 20, 2015 - in Corporate, Sensors, Stormwater

May 19, 2015—U.S. Geological Survey streamflow gages are recording major flooding on the White River and Cheyenne River as the result of recent snow and rain.  Field crews are measuring streamflow on the White River and the Cheyenne River and minor flooding at various sites throughout western South Dakota.

Much of southwestern South Dakota received several inches of heavy wet snow on May 10. Since then, rainstorms throughout the area have resulted in higher than normal streamflows. Some streamgages are currently reporting water levels above flood stage, and more rainfall is predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.

Currently, three USGS gaging stations in the White River Basin are reporting above flood water levels, and one USGS gaging station was recently above flood water levels:

  • The White River at the Nebraska/South Dakota state line has a new peak of record streamflow at more than 4,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). The previous peak of record of 3,820 cfs at this site was set in May 1991.
  • The White River near Oglala streamgage  and the gage on the White River near Kadoka also are above flood stage. The USGS currently has four crews measuring high flows on the White River with two additional crews in the Cheyenne and Bad River Basins.
  • The streamgage for Cheyenne River at Wasta near the I-90 bridge recorded a high flow of approximately 32,000 cfs on May 16. A flow of similar magnitude has not occurred at this site since 1950. The recent high flow of the Cheyenne River flooded the Wasta I-90 Rest Area resulting in its temporary closure on May 16.

USGS scientists are collecting critical streamflow data that are vital for protection of life, property and the environment. These data are used by the National Weather Service to develop flood forecasts; the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to manage flood control; and local and state emergency management in their flood response activities. More information is available on the USGS South Dakota Water Science Center website.

There are 144 USGS-operated streamgages in South Dakota that measure water levels, streamflow and rainfall. Current streamflow conditions are available online.

More detailed information on flooding in South Dakota is available on the WaterWatch flood page.

For more than 125 years, the USGS has monitored flow in selected streams and rivers across the U.S. The information is routinely used for water supply and management, monitoring floods and droughts, bridge and road design, determination of flood risk and for many recreational activities.

Access current flood and high flow conditions across the country by visiting the USGS WaterWatchwebsite. Receive instant, customized updates about water conditions in your area via text message or email by signing up for USGS WaterAlert.

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