River Levels

River levels for whitewater kayakers - available by SMS

 Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

What sources provide the river levels?

Most of the river levels come from the USGS Real-Time Water Data for the Nation. For Washington, the Washington Department of Ecology Streamflow Monitoring Network provides some of the flows. All of the California river levels come from Dreamflows. The British Columbia levels are currently provided by BC Hydro. A few river levels come from the US Bureau of Reclamation. And Columbia Gorge Whitewater provides the level for the Little White Salmon.

What shortcuts are available?

Quite a few! First, there are the standard ones such as:

NF = North Fork

MF = Middle Fork

SF = South Fork

EF = East Fork

WF = West Fork

No or N = North

Mi or M = Middle

So or S = South

Ea or E = East

We or W = West

Rvr or Rv = River

Crk or Cr = Creek


Second, there are lots of paddler shortcuts. Most section names and common "boater slang" river names are supported. This is usually the quickest way (with the least typing) to get the level you want. For example:

Robe = South Fork of the Sillaguamish

MF Nook = Middle Fork of the Nooksack

Sky = Skykomish

MM = Middle Middle (Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie)

Big Q = Big Quilcene River near mouth

LWS = Little White Salmon near Willard, WA

Tied 4 1st = San Joaquin Below Mammoth Pool Res

Chili = South American At Chili Bar

Purdons = South Yuba At Hwy 49 Bridge

Cresta = North Feather Below Grizzly Creek

Burnt Ranch = Trinity At Cedar Flat

Hells = Highland Creek Near North Stanislaus Confluence


Third, you can send the location of the gauge. For example:

Milsap = Middle Fork of the Feather River at Milsap Bar

Kyburz = South Fork of the American River below Kyburz

3 Rivers = Kaweah River at Three Rivers


Fourth, you can send the first 3 letters (or more) of any river for a list of matching USGS gauges. For example:

Met for a list of all gauges on the Methow

NF Sko for a list of all gauges on the North Fork of the Skokomish

What are Favorites?

Favorites are a way to get several river levels in 1 message (or maybe 2 if the river names are really long). You can store up to 3 favorites. When you go over 3, the oldest one is bumped off and the new one is added at the end.
To set a favorite:

Reply "F" or "f" to your latest river level message.

To get levels for all your favorites:

Send "Level favs" to 41411. The reply will list the latest level for each of your favorites. To squeeze as much into a single text message as possible, the shortest boater slang for the river name is used (for example, MM for Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie).
Keep in mind that it will take a little longer to receive your Favorites response because the service has to get multiple river levels.

How often do the levels update?

It depends on the source of the gauge. Most river levels update every hour; although some only update every 4 hours. A few river levels from the USBR only update daily. Dreamflows' river levels update at various intervals, depending on the river. The Little White Salmon updates whenever the Gorge Hits paddlers run it.

Why do some levels only update daily?

This is a limitation of the data provided by the gauge.

How is the trend (rising, falling, or flat) determined?

For gauges that have hourly data, the trend is based on the level change for the most recent 2 hours of data. For gauges that only update daily, the trend is the 24-hour change.

Why don't you have a gauge for ...?

That's a great question! If you have a suggestion for a gauge to monitor, please send a link to the gauge to support@riverlevels.us

How do I get all the gauges on a particular river?

Sometimes due to the paddler shortcuts, it can be difficult to get a non-standard gauge. For example, sending "Level Green" will return the level of the Green River near Palmer, WA since this is the gauge that paddlers standardly use for the Green. But what if you want the level of the Green River near Auburn, WA?
   Simply send the full name of the river for a list of all gauges on rivers with that name. For example, send "Level Green River" for a list of all gauges on all Green Rivers in the United States. Adding "River", "Creek", etc. always bypasses the paddler shortcuts.