Navigating the St. Lawrence River in low-water conditions can be tricky.
To help boaters avoid bad bumps, New York Sea Grant is launching today a Web-based, real-time forecasting tool that provides both up-to-date and 12-hour-forecasted water currents and depth data for the river.
Boaters, anglers, marina operators and shippers may access the site from their computers and smartphones by going to www.glos.us.
David G. White, a Great Lakes coastal recreation and tourism specialist with the Sea Grant, said users also may set up email and text alerts that would help them adjust their travel based on water conditions and avoid bad boating environments, such as storms, a few hours ahead of time.
Not only is this new system a handy tool for boaters, but it also could help divers plan a safer trip and help rescue crews locate people in the water based on the direction and speed of the flow of a specific area.
The tool was developed by Sea Grant in partnership with the Great Lakes Observing System and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab.
It works by pulling real-time buoy data along the river provided by organizations from both the U.S. and Canada which is then plugged into a long-term, generalized hydrodynamic model that fills in the gaps and predicts water conditions.
This system is still in beta testing and will be further improved and updated based on feedback, Mr. White said.
We asked boaters if they wanted a smartphone app and were told that the cell signal isnt currently reliable enough on the water for an app. The website is mobile-friendly and can be seen relatively well on a tablet or smartphone screen, said Great Lakes Observing System program coordinator Kelli Paige in an email.
However, she said, the Great Lakes Observing System has plans to extend the scope of the tool across the Great Lakes basin in 2013 and may consider developing an app in the future.
Prior to the launch, Sea Grant facilitated four public meetings in Alexandria Bay and Ogdensburg to gather input, which was used to enhance the modeling initiated by researchers at the Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecosystem Research at the University of Michigan, Great Lakes Observing System and NOAA.
The website was created by Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Portland, Maine.
The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the Thousand Islands International Tourism Council and others provided information for online directories of marinas and boat launches from Mud Bay south of Cape Vincent to sites north of Massena, according to Sea Grant.