GPW: Self-Tempered Anarchy since 2009

Your GPW Editor-on-Occasion is Petra Fried in the City.
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stories along The Way

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

USGS requests help to monitor Station Fire debris flows

Foothills residents awoke this morning to find a thick covering of ash, sand, and dust on everything in the wake of light Santa Ana winds. The unhealthful air and dust storm has continued all day today, an unpleasant reminder that an absolutely unprecedented amount of material is poised to flow into civilization when just the right amount of rain hits it.    -GPW

Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey are looking to the people most affected by the Station Fire to help them gather and track debris flows over the upcoming winter. Although the USGS has some monitoring stations already in place, clearly they cannot be everywhere at once. But residents are on site and available to report back with firsthand data. As long as everyone takes proper safety precautions, this is a very smart use of resources by going to the folks who have the first-hand encounters.

The details from Sue Perry at USGS:

Throughout the next few winters, those of us near the Station Fire burn area can provide a service to scientists studying the debris flow risk after wildfires. Scientists at the USGS use data from storm seasons to calibrate their debris flow understanding (and thus their warning systems). The more they know about actual flows, the better. Citizen reports can substantially improve the dataset, and thus the USGS is requesting your help.

If at any time you witness earth moving (landslide, debris flow, mudflow, mudslide), please send an email to, with as much of the following information as you are able to provide:
(* MUST HAVE items are asterisked)
  1. * Date of event
  2. * Location of event (street address or intersection, lat-long coordinates from phone/handheld GPS, or description with distinguishing features)
  3. * Description of event (is it moving or sitting? what sizes and kinds of materials can you see? how thick is it? anything else noteworthy?)
  4. * Time event was witnessed
  5. Time of actual occurrence of event, or estimate of when the event occurred
  6. Description of any damage
  7. Is clean-up underway?
  8. Can you provide photos, sketches, video? (please don't send them until requested)
  9. Witness' name and contact info 
Do not put yourself at risk in ANY way to obtain this information. If the event is recent, more may be on the way.

For more information, please contact:
Sue Perry, Staff Scientist
Multi-Hazard Demonstration Project for Southern California
United States Geological Survey
525 So. Wilson Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91106
office: 626.583.6748
mobile: 818.285.9350