About NWS and AFWS Data Partners
NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) has many partnerships with public and non-profit organizations across the Nation who own, operate, and maintain automated gage networks. The vast majority of these Automated Flood Warning System (AFWS) networks are equipped with precipitation gages, but small numbers of stream gages are also included in some systems. AFWS precipitation and stream gages directly benefit the communities in which they operate by supplying data for many municipal functions including water supply monitoring, recreation forecasts, navigation, sewer and waste treatment operations, power generation, structural design, and emergency planning. Most importantly, gages save lives and reduce property damage by providing critical, real-time information to NWS, other Federal agencies, and public officials at all levels of state and local government. In many instances AFWS provide data from locations and at times for which no other information is available, making them vital for protecting the public and the Nation’s infrastructure.
NOAA’s AFWS partnerships began in the 1970’s when communities with high flash flood risk informally collaborated with NOAA to design and build AFWS. In the late 1970’s NOAA initiated a national AFWS partnership program by creating the Integrated Flood Warning and Observing Program (IFLOWS). IFLOWS began as a pilot project in seven Appalachian states (KY, NC, NY, PA, TN, VA, and WV). These states’ emergency management agencies received annual NOAA grant funding to purchase precipitation gages, computers, and communications hardware, and agreed to operate and maintain their gage networks with non-NOAA funds. NOAA provides no direct funding for state and county operational and maintenance positions and contracts. AFWS technology has expanded beyond the original IFLOWS program, and many new systems have been built throughout the country entirely with local funds, and with various enhancements.