Although Hurricane Lenny brought high winds and heavy rains to Puerto Rico, residents in the vicinity of Lago La Plata were spared the hazards and inconveniences of an unnecessary evacuation Wednesday morning, in part because of the efforts of U.S. Geological Survey Caribbean District Office personnel in advance of, and during the storm. Precipitation and stream gauging stations were put on alert mode throughout Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to provide data in near real-time every five minutes via satellite to the USGS District office in Guaynabo. These data proved critical in verifying that a flood of the Lago La Plata Reservoir was not impending.
At the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency (PREMA) during the hurricane, José M. Agis and Maritza Rodríguez monitored the USGS rain gauge network. Dianne López and Reynaldo Sanabria remained in the Caribbean District office to monitor the computer system and respond to any request from the emergency unit at the PREMA.
Even though Hurricane Lenny did not make landfall on the island, it produced heavy rains over Puerto Rico, especially in the interior and the southeast portion of the island. The USGS rain gauge network reported 24-hour rainfall totals of up to 5 and 6 inches near Orocovis, in the interior of the island and approximately 3 inches in the southeastern towns of Naguabo and Humacao. Numerous landslides have also been reported in these areas.
The USGS maintains a network of 123 gaging stations in the Caribbean that measure river stage (height) and discharge (volume). During normal operations these stations transmit every 4 hours and the data is available to the general public on the Internet http://dprsj1.er.usgs.gov. In Puerto Rico, this information is used on a regular basis to forecast water availability for drinking in addition to agricultural and industrial uses. USGS streamflow data for all near real-time stations throughout the United States are available to the public via the World Wide Web at: http://water.usgs.gov . As the nation's largest water, earth and biological science, and civilian mapping agency, the USGS works in cooperation with more than 2000 organizations across the country to provide reliable, impartial, scientific information to resource managers, planners, and other customers. This information is gathered in every state by USGS scientists to minimize the loss of life and property from natural disasters, to contribute to the conservation and the sound economic and physical development of the nation's natural resources, and to enhance the quality of life by monitoring water, biological, energy, and mineral resources.
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