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Go With the Flow
August 28, 2013 1:11 PM   Subscribe

"Have you ever dropped a stick in a river and wondered where it might go if it floated all the way downstream? Now you can trace its journey using Streamer." In addition to displaying the distance traveled, difference in elevation, and number of states, counties and cities the stick will pass through before reaching its outlet point, Streamer can do an upstream trace to show you which rivers and smaller streams fed into the spot where the stick was dropped.

Produced by the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Atlas of the United States has come a long way from its earlier incarnations and now offers "information presentation, access, and delivery technologies that didn't exist 30 years ago to bring you a dynamic and interactive atlas."
posted by Rykey (32 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
So this is a high-tech game of poohsticks? I LOVE IT.
posted by elizardbits at 1:12 PM on August 28, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'll never lose another stick--thanks, USGS!
posted by box at 1:14 PM on August 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's like somebody took a Polaroid of one my childhood dreams, dropped it behind an old box, pulled it out long after I had forgotten about it, and made an app for it.


(though seriously, as somebody who grew up pissing in lots of creeks in Western Illinois, where else would I think it would end up but pretty quickly into the Mississippi and then the Gulf of Mexico)

posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:27 PM on August 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's like Paddle-To-The-Sea for grownups!
posted by workerant at 1:27 PM on August 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


I would prefer simply to imagine its journey...getting therer, wherever that may be, is half the fun
posted by Postroad at 1:29 PM on August 28, 2013


I was just going to say that the Canadian version would be called Paddle to the Sea-mer.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:29 PM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh wow. The little triangle things on the streams? Those are USGS flow measurement doohickies, and you can check the data (Daily, Historic, Whatever) for yourself!

Some of them even report in real time!
posted by notyou at 1:30 PM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is so fantastic.
posted by rtha at 1:41 PM on August 28, 2013


Apparently I live in a dreary gray land with no streams. :(
posted by rocket88 at 1:50 PM on August 28, 2013


I'm going to need it to zoom in just a little further.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 1:51 PM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apparently I live in a dreary gray land with no streams. :(

I as well -- not only that, but streams stop at the 49th parallel. Toss a stick in a stream in Idaho and it may just disintegrate at the BC border.

I would like to spend a long while with this looking at the continental divide to find a couple of points a few hundred yards apart where a dropped stick will come out north of Seattle or southeast of New Orleans, depending.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:59 PM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is the coolest thing! Even though the creek into which I dropped sticks as a kid just....drains right into Lake Erie. Nothing upstream flows into it, either. Yaaaaay.
posted by troika at 1:59 PM on August 28, 2013


The dreary gray land with no streams makes this kind of useless in NW Montana
posted by ITravelMontana at 2:03 PM on August 28, 2013


Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug, the map doesn't quite cover the Lost Rivers of Idaho, either.

Big Lost River enters the Lost River Dry Channel. Little Lost River ends in the Sinks. Both the lower courses and the Sink are within the Idaho National Laboratory (think nuclear) near the Craters of the Moon, and both exit on the Snake River near Hagerman, at 1000 Springs, with the exits not shown. INL blesses the Snake with its radiation traces.

Now, off to check the Humboldt Sinks!
posted by BlueHorse at 2:40 PM on August 28, 2013


See also the EPA's Surf Your Watershed.
posted by jquinby at 2:42 PM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whoops, here's the Sink.
posted by BlueHorse at 2:46 PM on August 28, 2013


I would like to spend a long while with this looking at the continental divide to find a couple of points a few hundred yards apart where a dropped stick will come out north of Seattle or southeast of New Orleans, depending.

It's pretty easy to find places on the divide where one side flows to the Mississippi and the other to the Columbia, but the Columbia bisects Washington from BC to Oregon so I don't know that finding a place where the outlet is north of Seattle is possible.
posted by junco at 2:56 PM on August 28, 2013


The dreary gray land with no streams makes this kind of useless in NW Montana

What is upstream of the Milk River? The NULL watershed, which is NaN square miles.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:58 PM on August 28, 2013


Click on the end of the Mississippi and trace upstream. Impressive watershed.
posted by cosmac at 3:17 PM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cosmac, that map answers questions I've had in the back of my mind since I was 9 years old. Thanks!
posted by hal9k at 3:24 PM on August 28, 2013


Awesome.

Can't play with it, now, but can someone tell me what happens if you "put in" at "Parting of the Waters"? From lede in wiki:
...is an unusual hydrologic site at Two Ocean Pass on the Continental Divide, within the Teton Wilderness Area of Wyoming's Bridger-Teton National Forest. Two Ocean Pass separates the headwaters of Pacific Creek, which flows Westerly to the Pacific Ocean, and Atlantic Creek, which flows Easterly to the Atlantic Ocean.
Location is 44.042933°, -110.17495°, if it helps.

Or, for that matter, I'm curious about how it deals with human-dependent drainage path situations, such as those created by the Old River Control Structure on the Atchafalaya.

Can't wait to play around with this later; it seems right up my alley.
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 3:29 PM on August 28, 2013


OMG, you guys! Paddle to the Sea is on YouTube! One of my absolute favorite school movies. I can't wait to watch it tonight.
posted by funkiwan at 3:32 PM on August 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would like to spend a long while with this looking at the continental divide to find a couple of points a few hundred yards apart where a dropped stick will come out north of Seattle or southeast of New Orleans, depending.

Look for West Fork North Fork Teton River and Bowl Creek in Montana. 47.974942, -112.886932. 200M separation maybe...

Agree, easy to spend hours. Also fun to spot canals crossing rivers with no intersecting flow...
posted by cosmac at 3:34 PM on August 28, 2013


Click on the end of the Mississippi and trace upstream. Impressive watershed.

Part of it's missing, but you would never know with this wonderful educational tool.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 4:07 PM on August 28, 2013


Every time I come across a web app that does, very easily, something I have struggled to accomplish in ArcGIS, I am not sure whether I am very happy or very sad. Nevertheless, this is awesome.
posted by pemberkins at 4:42 PM on August 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Big government is tracking your pooh sticks. Have to figure out another way to evade the NSA.

This is awesome.
posted by arcticseal at 4:53 PM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would like to spend a long while with this looking at the continental divide to find a couple of points a few hundred yards apart where a dropped stick will come out north of Seattle or southeast of New Orleans, depending.

Look for West Fork North Fork Teton River and Bowl Creek in Montana. 47.974942, -112.886932. 200M separation maybe...


No, that would put you in the Columbia River almost 200 miles south of Seattle. There is no location that divides Seattle from the Mississippi. As you go north of Seattle, rivers flow directly into the Pacific. If you go directly east, you get into the Columbia drainage and if you go farther north and east, you get into the Churchill River/Hudson Bay drainage.

One of the more interesting locations is Triple Divide Peak in Glacier Park. From the summit you can spit into the Mississippi, the Columbia, and Hudson Bay (Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans).
posted by JackFlash at 5:25 PM on August 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fascinating! I was curious about some little mountain creeks outside of Brevard, North Carolina, well inland. I expected they would drain into creeks that emptied into rivers that emptied into the Atlantic Ocean. Turns out that the water from those little creeks actually takes a circuitous route west, all the way through Tennessee to the Mississippi River and through to the Gulf of Mexico.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:29 PM on August 28, 2013


We all end in the ocean, we all start in the streams, we're all carried alooooooong on the river of dre-e-eams!

(Not just me, right?)

P.S. In the middle of the, I go walkin' in the, in the middle of the, I go walkin' in the, in the middle of the, I go walkin' in the, in the middle of the, I go walkin' in the!

posted by argonauta at 7:08 PM on August 28, 2013


Does this work for anyone else? For me, it just sits there saying "Buffering...".
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:48 PM on August 28, 2013


Nothing upstream flows into it, either.
Don't be so sure. There are several relatively small streams that I know of that are not included on this.
posted by Flunkie at 8:29 PM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Go with the flow... Indeed, indeed. That said, some of us, however, are merely content with Watching the River Flow.

And since Dylan gets periodically zapped on YT, here is a jaunty version by some band called The Rolling Stones.

Thanks for the post, Rykey!
posted by Mister Bijou at 12:49 AM on August 29, 2013


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