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Tides & Currents (NOS Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services)


New Current Meter for Dangerous Texas Passage

Barge approaching Galveston railroad bridge and Causeway

A view of the narrow passage through the Galveston Railroad Bridge and Causeway from an approaching barge. Strong cross-currents make navigating through the two bridges the most hazardous passage along the entire Gulf Coast.

A new current meter installed on Oct. 15 will help make the most dangerous passage in the Gulf Coast's Intracoastal Waterway a lot safer.

Technicians from the NOS Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) installed the new meter at the request of the U.S. Coast Guard to help address safety concerns because of increased groundings in the area.

The meter provides pilots with real-time data on strong cross-channel currents through passages in the Galveston Causeway and Railroad Bridge.

These parallel, narrow openings allow ships, barges, and recreational vessels to travel between Galveston Island and the Texas Coast. More accidents occur as a result of collisions with the Railroad Bridge than any other bridge along the Gulf Coast.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, navigation along this stretch of the Intracoastal Highway grew even more difficult because the huge storm caused the sea floor to shift around, which changed depth readings and water flow patterns in the area between Galveston Island and the Texas Coast.

CO-OPS maintains current meters at critical points around the nation.

Real-time and forecast current, tide, water level, and other coastal and ocean data are available on CO-OPS Web site.