By Ann McCreary
New rain gauges are being installed within the Carlton Complex Fire boundaries to provide an early warning system for flash floods.
Approximately 15 rain gauges will be placed throughout the fire-damaged area to provide immediate rainfall accumulation information to the National Weather Service, so that it can alert people about the potential for flash floods or mudslides.
The new rain gauges are being installed in the wake of floods and slides that damaged or destroyed several homes and properties following torrential rains Aug. 21.
About half of the gauges are in place, said Craig Nelson of the Okanogan Conservation District, which is working with other agencies on the project. The devices are being placed on mountain peaks in and around the fire area.
The gauges are programmed to send a satellite signal if they measure 5/100 of an inch of rain in less than five minutes. The signal is sent to the National Weather Service in Spokane, which can issue flood warnings for specific locations, Nelson said.
Locations of the new gauges include McClure Mountain, Copper Mountain, South Ridge, Pole Pick Mountain, Hungry Ridge and Blue Buck Mountain, Nelson said.
Prior to the fires there were a couple of rain gauges in the area, but they only reported once an hour. The new gauges will report continuously after they are triggered by significant rainfall, and will provide much more site-specific information, Nelson said.
The devices include a solar panel and metal cabinet to house electronic equipment, a small arm with the rain gauge and antennae to send signals.