Anatomy of a Storm
Posted on: July 27, 2017

Recently, InfoSuperior reported on flood-damage relief on its way for Saxon Harbor, an area on Lake Superior which falls on the border between Wisconsin and Minnesota. A reported 10+ inches of rain fell July 11-12, 2016, resulting in three lives lost, and a rescue mission for several people stranded on the Apostle Islands. Flooding caused destruction of Saxon Harbor’s marina and campground, washed out roads, overflow of Oronto Creek, 19 boats beached (others sank and set adrift). It also caused the shutdown of the sewage plant and disrupted electricity and natural gas services on the Bad River Reservation. Significant amounts of sediment and mud were swept out into Superior, causing concern about drinking water quality.

It’s one thing to read about the flood damage. It’s another entirely to get a visual sense of the storm itself, its vast impact on the region, and what methods authorities use to measure the damage. This is where the United States Geological Survey steps in. USGS has created an interactive geo-narrative to tell the story of the northern Wisconsin and Bad River Reservation flooding. You’ve never seen a storm quite this way before.

The geonarrative is split up into five separate chapters, denoted by tabs at the top of the page:

  • Introduction
  • Measuring the Flood
  • Flood-Peak Inundation Maps
  • Flood and High-Water Mark Photos
  • More info

Using a mix of photo imagery, satellite weather-radar, interactive mapping, and textual narrative, USGS provides a comprehensive look at flooding impacts. Textual narrative is in a column on the left of the screen; as you scroll, photos or mapping located on the right change to give context and demonstrate what you’re reading.

‘Measuring the flood’ explains how the USGS collects its data. Streamflow and high-water marks are measured with acoustic doppler current profilers and crest-stage gauges. Flood inundation is measured with GIS mapping. The geo-narrative juxtaposes this GIS mapping with text and photo narratives in ‘Flood-peak inundation maps’ and ‘Flood and high-water mark photos.’


To visit the USGS geo-narrative, click here.

InfoSuperior: Special Report – Severe weather hits Minnesota, Wisconsin (July 14, 2106)

InfoSuperior: Saxon Harbor’s flood-damage relief plan (June 9, 2017)

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