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Q. What is AFWS?

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.

In September 2009, the NWS introduced a new National AFWS Website to expand upon the focus of its mission “for the protection of lives and property”. This site’s main purpose is to inform the general public of impending flood threats through the merger of field-tested transmission protocols (ALERT) and technologies such as IP-based transmission, RSS and other GIS layer-based data files.

Q. Where do I get help or provide feedback?
A. Email with questions or comments about the AFWS website. Additionally users can participate in brief web-survey about their experience by clicking here.

Q. Where can I obtain archive data for AFWS Sensors?
A. Archive data can be obtained either on each County Page within the respective NWS Weather Forecast Office CWA Pages or obtained from the State Summary Pages. Data pre-September 2009 will not have Stream Sensor Data and will not have the reported engineering unit from the sensor. Additionally, only the reported precipitation data for hourly increaments are available from data Pre-Septem
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