National Geographic : 1896 Sep
WEATHER BUREAU RIVER AND FLOOD SYSTEM 307 points throughout the Ohio valley, and the resources of the Bureau were taxed to the utmost in the interests of the flooded districts. The damage caused in the Ohio valley by this flood could hardly be calculated. In the region about Cincinnati alone the loss of property was variously estimated at from $10,000,000 to $25,000,000. From June, 1889, to July, 1893, the care and supervision of the flood service of the Bureau were entrusted to a single indi vidual, and a considerable extension of the system was made in the way of establishing rainfall stations near the headwaters of the more important tributaries of the great rivers. In the early part of June, 1889, forecasts were made twelve to twenty-four hours in advance of the flood which reached the city of Wash ington, and the value of property saved in this city alone was many times greater than the annual appropriation for the entire flood service of the country. In the spring of 1890 the lower Mississippi valley was flooded for a distance of forty miles back from the river in the states of Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Special flood warnings, which were amply con firmed by the subsequent stages of water, were issued from Washington in advance of the flood, and in several instances far in advance of the flood-crest. Numerous illustrations might be adduced to show the vast utility, from a commercial stand point, of a thoroughly equipped Government flood-warning sys tem, notwithstanding the fact that the forecasts are based upon empirical reasoning, and are, therefore, subject to more or less error. The allotment from the annual appropriation for the support of the river and flood system of the Weather Bureau is not greater than the value of property that may be saved in the cellar of an ordinary commercial house. In considering the relation of the Weather Bureau to the hydrography of the country it should not be forgotten that there are now about 2,000 standard rain-gauges uniformly distributed throughout the region east of the Rocky mountains from which daily measurements of precipitation are received at the central office. In the Rocky mountain region there are about 1,000 gauges, but, on account of the paucity of population, there are many important regions from which proper data are not being.re ceived. Measurements of snowfall on the high mountain ranges would be of great value in connection with irrigation, but the present distribution of observation stations is inadequate to the proper undertaking of this important work.