Like most other residents of Cuyahoga County, I was bombarded by phone alerts, social media posts and radio reports of heavy rain and flash flooding on Labor Day morning. I even had to take a detour on my way home from a short shopping trip due to flooding in the Jennings Rd./Harvard Ave. area.
Unlike most other residents of Cuyahoga County, though, I drove around my neighborhood taking pictures of stormwater control measures in action (nerd alert!). Detention basins, infiltration basins, bioretention cells, stormwater wetlands – my neighborhood has it all. I began to wonder, as I often do when we get big storms, just how much rain were we getting? Are they getting the same amount over in the Rocky River Watershed, where we have some recently installed projects?
Fortunately, there are a wealth of readily available online resources to track rainfall and stream flow (aka discharge – the volume of water moving past a point in a given amount of time, usually represented as cubic feet per second – cfs).
In addition to your own back yard rain gauge (wait… you don’t have one? How do you talk to your friends and family about how much rain you got?), check out the following rain gauge resources:
- Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) Rainfall Dashboard. With 28 rain gauges located throughout and adjacent to their service area, no one in Cuyahoga County is too far from one of these gauges operated by NEORSD in support of their Stormwater and Project Clean Lake programs. Features include hourly, daily, monthly and year-to-date rainfall statistics.
- National Weather Service Observed Weather Reports. The official rainfall and snowfall totals from Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport and other weather data can be found in these NWS reports, going back two months. The NWS site is a gateway to many other types of weather and climate data as well.
- The United States Geological Survey (USGS) Stream Gauge Network includes over two dozen gauges on streams and rivers in Cuyahoga County. Some of these, such as the gauge on the Rocky River at Cedar Point Rd., or on the Cuyahoga River at Independence, have been in near-continuous operation for nearly 90 years. Many others have been installed in the last decade to support local stormwater and watershed management efforts. Either way, these stations all provide discharge and/or gauge height data, and some include additional parameters such as temperature, turbidity, etc.). For instance, as I write this I can see that the discharge at the Cuyahoga River gauge in Independence is 656 cfs and the gauge height is 3.68 feet. I can also see that on Labor Day, the discharge peaked at 13,500 cfs and the gauge height reached almost 21 feet – nearly 5 feet above flood stage at that site. This link takes you to the USGS Ohio Water Science Center’s dashboard, where you can access data for all USGS stream gauges in the state.
So the next time it rains, you don’t have to be left wondering how much rain fell in different parts of the county, or how the local streams are responding – you can find out in near real-time!
Blog Author: Jared Bartley, Senior Program Manager – Education & Watersheds