As part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Ocean Research Priority Plan, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with local and state agencies, is working to improve existing operational nowcast systems and expand the use of operational predictive models to over 45 beaches throughout the Great Lakes.
Three years of data were collected for modeling activities at two beaches in Lake County, three beaches in Erie County, and one beach in Lorain County. This work is being done in cooperation with the Lake County General Health District, the Erie County Health Department, Cuyahoga County Board of Health, and Lorain County Metroparks. Models have been developed and will be tested for accuracy during 2013. If the models are able to predict the recreational water quality better than the current method, we hope to initiate nowcasts for these beaches in 2014. The beaches and possible model variables are as follows:
- Mentor Headlands, Lake County—Two subseason models:
- Subseason 1 (May–July 22)—wave height, turbidity, and wind alongshore at the time of sampling (Burke Lakefront Airport).
- Subseason 2 (July 23–Sept)— wave height plus turbidity, barometric pressure, and airport rainfall during the previous 48 hours with the most recent rainfall receiving the most weight (Burke Lakefront Airport).
- Fairport Harbor—wave height, turbidity, and airport rainfall during the previous 48 hours with the most recent rainfall receiving the most weight (Ashtabula County Airport).
- Vermillion—wave height, turbidity, radar rainfall during the previous 48 hours with the most recent rainfall receiving the most weight, alongshore wind speed and direction from the NOAA Old Woman’s Creek gage, and discharge in the Vermillion River at 8:00 am.
- Nickel Plate, Huron—Two subseason models:
- Subseason 1 (May–July31)—turbidity, day of the year, photosynthetic active radiation for the previous day (Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center Avon Lake Station), lake level change in the past 24 hours (Marblehead), radar rainfall for the past 24 hours.
- Subseason 2 (Aug 1–Sept)—turbidity, radar rainfall for the past 24 hours, alongshore wind speed and direction from the NOAA Old Woman’s Creek gage.
- Lakefront, Huron—wave height, turbidity, lake level change in the past 24 hours (Marblehead), radar rain for the past 12 hours.
- Lakeview, Lorain—day of the year, turbidity, wave height, water temperature, number of birds (time of sampling), wind speed at 8:00 a.m (Lorain County Regional Airport).
Buoys have been installed at Edgewater since 2005, Huntington since 2005, and Mentor Headlands since 2011 to facilitate automated measurements of nowcast variables without having to go to the beach. This would reduce manpower time in the future. The buoys were custom made by environmental equipment manufacturers for use in nearshore shallow waters. During 2013, the USGS will maintain the Edgewater buoy, discontinuing use of the other two buoys. The Edgewater buoy is equipped with a datalogger to store data, a battery and solar panel for power, and a pressure transducer to measure wave heights and wave periods. The Edgewater buoy is equipped with a radio, amplifier, and antenna to transmit the data to the WEB in real-time during the recreational season through the USGS National Water Information System Web site (NWIS Web). Data are available for 120 days on the web or can be requested by contacting the USGS. The site identification number for Edgewater buoy data is as follows:
In addition to the buoys, a weather station was installed at Mentor Headlands in April 2012 to measure wind speed, wind direction, barometric pressure, air temperature, net solar radiation, incident light, and rainfall. The USGS will maintain the weather station during 2013. The site identification number for the weather station is as follows:
Weather station near Headlands State Park—414514081174400