Checking on the Rapp
If you’ve driven over the Blue and Gray Parkway Bridge, you’ve seen it: a white cylinder with an antenna and small solar panel on the west side of the span. (Free Lance-Star Photographer Mike Morones snapped this photo.) It’s not a home for wildlife or an alien homing beacon. It’s a component of the National Weather Service Integrated Flood Observing and Warning System (IFLOWS). Unlike some government programs with long acronyms, this one is actually useful to the rest of us as well. The gauge, installed a few years ago with a grant, records near real-time data on the river’s rise and rainfall. That’s particularly useful when the Rappahannock watershed gets whacked by heavy rain from late summer and early fall tropical storms. To check the gauge, click here. The city used to check the rising river with the decidedly low-tech ruler gauge at City Dock
Another gauge helpful to paddlers is the red, yellow, green ruler visible on the Stafford shore, across from Normandy Village along Fall Hill Avenue. More information about that, and paddling safety is available on the Friends of the Rappahannock site here. And yes, there’s a third river gauge, operated by the U.S. Geological Survey, below Mott’s Run. Click here for information on flow, temperature and other technical stuff.