USGS Crest-Stage Gaging Station - Elizabeth Lake, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin - August 2020


We were out walking around Elizabeth Lake in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin a couple of weekends back and we came across this setup near Sunset Park.  It is out near the waterline and is kind of set back from the park.  But, because it is shiny, metallic and has that big solar panel and the antenna, it sticks out.  We walked up to it and the sticker on the front told us what it is.  See below:

It is a Crest-Stage Gaging Station operated by the US Geological Survey (USGS).  The sticker goes on to read:
This station is part of a national network for obtaining water-resources information.  The high-water mark recorded by this gage and the discharge of the stream related to it are use for flood forecasting, reservoir operations, design of bridges and culverts, interstate and intrastate water-rights claims and many other projects.
It ends with:  for information contact: (nobody).

So, I went digging.  And turns out, the USGS runs a nice little dashboard for each of these USGS Crest-Stage Gaging Stations - including this one in Twin LakesHere's the link to the dashboard.  The dashboard only goes back to September of 2018 - and based on the shape this thing is in, I'm guessing that's when it was installed.  They also have what they call a 'Beta' set of dashboards up that have more interesting/prettier charts - but the same data.

The data here shows a BIG leap (seemingly) in September of 2019.  But, when you look at the left axis on the charts, it is showing a pretty small range of 793.94 feet above sea level to a high of 794.87 feet above sea level.  So, just under 1 foot of swing.  Not sure how to interpret that - is it a lot? Or a little?  When I read stories like this one talking about how Lake Michigan is going to be about four feet above average this Summer, it makes me think that one foot delta is pretty ordinary.

Maybe I'll go back and revisit the charts when I get reminded of the station during a morning walk later this year.

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