You might currently use the local newspaper’s web site to obtain recent elevation data for the reservoir you are fishing or the river you are canoeing. Or if you fish or float on a number of water bodies, you might have to browse a number of controlling authorities sites (including the US Geological Survey) to get gauge data. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has packaged all of the Observed River Conditions data into RSS feeds so you have real-time gauge data delivered to your inbox. You can subscribe to gauge observations, forecasts, or alerts (handy if you live in the flood plain). The national home page for this service is at http://www.weather.gov/ahps/rss/observed.php, with links to break down data by state, county, or gauge.
NOAA includes a Product Description Document (PDD) titled “Experimental Use of Really Simple Syndication (RSS) for Distribution of Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS) Information” that includes this description:
The National Weather Service is responsible for making its weather, water and climate information widely available to taxpayers using commonly accepted standards and techniques. One of the most widely accepted, available, and cost effective means of accomplishing this objective is the use of web services via the internet. The NWS has implemented Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS) as a corporate-wide HTTP-based web service for disseminating hydrologic information. This service has allowed users instant access to current NWS hydrologic information via Internet connections to personal computers equipped with industry standard browsers.
A rapidly evolving technology across the United States is the ability to access internet content via portable wireless devices. The Really Simple Syndication (RSS) format of AHPS information, will allow for a means of a user-driven public notification of AHPS products to cellular telephones or personal digital assistant (PDA). The RSS format will be provided for: 1) AHPS observations, 2) AHPS routine forecasts and 3) AHPS observations and forecasts that reach “alert” thresholds. The “alert” threshold is determined by the Weather Forecast Offices and is based on locally appropriate action stage that is always a stage below flood stage. This “alert” capability can be used to trigger further review of hydrological and meteorological conditions.
The AHPS RSS products will include the most recent observations, and when appropriate the greatest forecast value and the last forecast value from an individual AHPS time series file (in xml format). The AHPS RSS product will also include the internet address to the AHPS hydrograph page. A null AHPS RSS ”alert” product will be available to indicate non-alert conditions – if/when non-alert conditions exist.