Setting Up Flow Alerts

Flow AlertsLast year I used my meager internetting skills to put together a Flows Page. And while it’s still a handy way to see what’s going on statewide, there is a better way to keep an eye on flows for your home wave, or to get notifications on whether it’s time to do a road trip somewhere like Glenwood. Here’s how to setup a Flow Alert using the USGS website.

River Run Park Flow Alert Example

I’ll walk through the process with River Run Park, since it’s my home wave and one that a lot of the front range watches (which is why I put together a 1,000+ word analysis as to how flows there are likely to look this season).

On the “Gauge Information” subsection of the River Run Park Page, I have included a discussion of the most accurate gauge, which is South Platte Below Union. The main gauge page includes a “Subscribe to WaterAlert” link (which I’ve also mirrored on the our RRP page, and the pages of other waves that use USGS gauges). Click that:

USGS Water Alert

You’ll be taken to a subscription form that lets you plug in how you want your subscription setup. Do you want emails or text notifications? How often do you want the notifications? (Daily is probably the answer here; hourly notifications can get obnoxious). You probably want your streamflow parameter to be discharge in cfs (ft3/s in government speak). And decide what flow range you want alerts in.

USGS Flow Subscription

I usually like to setup daily email alerts for when my “home” wave is in a surfable range, so basically 200+ cfs for RRP. And then I’ll setup a daily text alert for rarer events that I may want to rearrange my schedule for. So, for example, 2,000+ cfs at Union Chutes, or 16,000+ at Glenwood or 20,000+ at Big Sur.

Finally, you’ll need to reply to a USGS email from the email address you used to sign up – just reply without changing anything, and you’re all set. You’ll get a quarterly email from USGS summarizing all of your subscriptions. As far as I know, there is no upper limit on the number of subscriptions you can have.

This approach won’t work for all Colorado gauges. Some are managed by the State Department of Water Resources – like the outflow of Chatfield, which is an indicator for what will happen soon at RRP and is the only accurate gauge for Miracle Wave. There are workarounds though; the flow at Union, used in the example above, is a good indicator of what is happening at the Chatfield outflow a few miles upstream, so an alert on the Union gauge can effectively tip you off to whether Miracle is in.

Happy surfing.