New Tide Gauges at Saxis and Chincoteague Marinas – United States Geological Survey (press release)

Accomack County, Va. — The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with Accomack County, the Town of Saxis and the Town of Chincoteague has installed two new tide gauge stations at the Saxis Marina and Chincoteague Marina to help emergency planners protect the shorelines of the Eastern Shore.

Tide gauges provide real-time water levels and local meteorology data in areas that are susceptible to the effects of storm-tide flooding. The sensors are arranged in long lines parallel to the coast to help measure how local topography, natural features and land use can affect flood damage and wave heights.

USGS tide gauges deliver up-to-the-minute data that are critical to the National Weather Service and other partners, like the Navy and Coast Guard, who conduct operations at sea, issue flood warnings, and initiate evacuation orders for communities.

“These tide gauges will provide timely, accurate information on current conditions that will be of immediate value to those working to forecast flooding. They also will help Accomack County and local communities, such as Saxis and Chincoteague, determine how best to prepare for and respond to storms” said Shaun Wicklein, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

The monitoring stations will provide decision makers long-term water level data and real-time warnings of storm surge. The systems were funded entirely by federal dollars under the Hurricane Sandy response, which was the main catalyst for making this effort possible.

Hurricane Sandy’s landfall affected many coastlines from the mid-Atlantic and northeastern states, including Virginia. Coastal changes, such as beach erosion, over-wash deposition and island breaching, occurred along the Virginia shoreline.

The placement of the tide gauges will provide valuable information for the protection and preservation of the shoreline. It will also provide strategic information to the mariners, fishermen, and pleasure boat operators as they navigate the waters of the Eastern Shore.

Before, during and after hurricanes or tropical storms, the USGS uses information from tide monitors, such as the ones installed at Saxis and Chincoteague, to apply earth and ecosystem science to measure the height and intensity of the storm surge. The water level and surge collected provides critical information used to forecast future floods, determine potential water quality impacts, and determine evacuation routes.

Real-time data is readily accessible through the USGS National Water Information System webpage. Additionally, the USGS WaterAlert service allows the public to receive data via e-mail or text (SMS) messages after subscribing.

Information on all the tide gauges located throughout the region, including Saxis and Chincoteague can be accessed through the USGS National Water Information System webpage.

For more than 125 years, the USGS has monitored flow in selected streams and rivers across the United States and does so in cooperation with over 850 federal, state and local agencies.