It’s been a bit surreal to read about this summer’s record-breaking drought from the lush, thunderstorm-drenched environs of Long Lake. But while the central Adirondacks may have had plenty of rain this summer, other parts of the North Country have not.
I have been tracking drought conditions across the region with stream gage data from US Geological Survey that measures stream levels and transmits the information in real-time to the internet. The USGS began stream gage construction in the late 19th century, and now maintains 7,500 gages across the country including dozens in the Adirondack region. The data from these gages are used for many purposes including flood forecasting, water supply allocation, wastewater treatment, highway engineering and recreation (rafting anyone?).
I wanted to overlay streamflow data over other maps of regional interest, so I wrote some code that brings the USGS stream gage map into our Adirondack Regional Geographic Information System (ARGIS).
It says a lot about our societal values that items like this are continually on the chopping block despite their obvious value, especially as we face upheavals in weather patterns due to climate change. Enjoy the data while it lasts.