For More Information

"NOAA Sentinels" Keep Watch Over the Gulf of Mexico

NOAA Sentinel

A hurricane-hardened "NOAA Sentinel" water-level observing station.

During the summer, the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services constructed four NOAA "Sentinels of the Coast" at Shell Beach, Louisiana; Bay Waveland, Mississippi; Amerada Pass, Louisiana; and Calcasieu Pass, Louisiana.

Operated by CO-OPS, the yellow, 25-foot-tall "NOAA Sentinels" are designed to withstand wind and wave action from category four hurricanes (winds from 131 to 155 miles per hour). The sensor-packed stations are mounted on four-foot diameter steel posts, which are driven 60 to 80 feet into the sea floor to ensure stability.

NOAA Sentinels measure and disseminate real-time water level and weather observations. These observations help coastal authorities prepare for, mitigate, and respond to storm tides generated by severe coastal storms, helping to develop vulnerability assessments; provide more accurate marine weather and flood forecasts, evacuation planning, and execution; determine when to open and close locks; and facilitate the reopening of ports after storms pass. Installation of the stations will be completed by fall 2008.

Part of NOAA's National Water Level Observation Network, the NOAA Sentinels replace stations that were destroyed or heavily damaged by recent hurricanes. Real-time data from all of NOAA's National Water Level Observation Network stations are available online.