Know How High The River Flows

Get Alerts on Bayou Rise and Decline

Sept. 4, 2017

Updated Sept. 6, 2017, with a new tool from the Corps of Engineers for projecting inundation levels on Buffalo Bayou going forward.

Updated Sept. 7, 2017

Update Sept. 14, 2017: The Harris County Flood Control District has reported that at least eighteen gauges were damaged by extreme high waters from Harvey. As of Sept. 11, the district had repaired twelve of them. The Corps of Engineers also reported that the US Geological Survey gauge on Buffalo Bayou at Piney Point was temporarily knocked out of commission by high waters.

As of this writing a great many people living along Buffalo Bayou have been forced out of their homes by the flooding river. On Friday, Sept. 1, those who remained in their flooded homes below Addicks and Barker dams in west Houston were asked to leave by the mayor, a request that became mandatory the next day. Offices, apartments, hotels, parking lots, parks, country clubs, and sewage treatment plants built next to the bayou also have been flooded.

Many people were taken by surprise, it seems. Knowing when and how fast the bayou was rising might have helped more people prepare. Knowing when the waters might recede might also help people plan.

Here is how people living and working along Buffalo Bayou below Addicks and Barker dams can receive real time alerts about a dangerous rise in the flow of the bayou. This is for the gauge at Piney Point, which is the gauge the Corps of Engineers uses to monitor the flow in the bayou and regulate storm water releases from the reservoirs behind those two federal dams in west Houston.

And here is a link to the interactive inundation map, just released to the public by the Corps of Engineers, that can help people see when and where the bayou might go down.

Read the rest of this post.

Barker Reservoir on the left and flooded streets and homes on the right. Buffalo Bayou runs through the middle. Google image 8.30.17

3 thoughts on “Know How High The River Flows”

  1. Armin says:

    I was closely monitoring the buffalo bayou gauge on shepherd. Based on the history of this gauge we should not have had any issues. They must have changed the gauge location unannounced because we were totally misled by this gauge and I put my family in grave danger by relying on its false level. Water level come up to four feet above our first level. I have pictures of the bayou from previous heavy rain storms that overlap the history of this gauge. If you know someone I can contact to question the management of this gauge and to hold someone accountable please let me know.


    1. Dear Armin,

      I believe you are upstream of the Shepherd gauge. If I were you, I would count on the Piney Point gauge upstream. Seems to me water is going to hit you before it hits Shepherd.

      But it seems a number of gauges eventually malfunctioned due to the extraordinarily high level of water. Shepherd Bridge was inundated. The Piney Point gauge also reportedly was having problems. Seems the key would be to set alerts or check before they get drowned or knocked out.

      Try contacting the US Geological Survey, which maintains that gauge.

      Or the Corps of Engineers.

      Let us know.

      1. We contacted the US Geological Survey about the Buffalo Bayou gauge at Shepherd Drive. Here is their reply today, Sept. 15:

        USGS station 08074000 Buffalo Bayou at Houston, TX collected streamflow (gage height) data before, during, and after the rains from Hurricane Harvey. The gage is currently functioning as expected.

        The recently collected data are considered provisional until our hydrographers can review the information. We are in the process of collecting the information needed to perform the necessary reviews of these data, as well as for data collected at many other streamgages in the region affected by flooding.

        As part of the review process, we collected a high-water mark and that information indicates that the gage was reading lower than expected during the event. The exact amount will be evaluated in the review process, as well as an application of corrections if needed. The data will be marked as “Approved” when the review process is completed.

        Thank you for your inquiry and interest in USGS information.


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