Army outfit keeps water data flowing

While you might not need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows a hydrologist comes in mighty handy when an entire armored division is planning to cross a river using nothing but pontoon bridges.

That's what the 1st Armored Division commanders in Bosnia now have access to thanks to a World Wide Web site hosted by the Army's Waterways Experiment Station (WES) Vicksburg Miss. (ripple.wes.army.mil/staff/sands/elev.htm) . WES has harnessed cutting-edge as well as older Internet technologies to give highly accurate forecasts of stages and flows on the Sava River in Croatia.

These forecasts will help the Army which has already started redeploying forces across the Sava to Germany to avoid the flooding that last December inundated men and materials on either side of the critical link.

Capt. Rich Sands the WES engineer who developed the WES Web page said Army staff members can tap into a wide range of graphic products to help them monitor the Sava River. Sands who taught himself Hypertext Markup Language coding in order to set up the Web site said WES decided to use Web technology because sending these large graphics files by electronic mail "just caused [users'] computers to crash."

While WES uses its supercomputers to help with the Sava River forecasts Sands said the most critical data comes from the Croatian equivalent of the National Weather Service.

While on a field survey to Bosnia and Croatia earlier this year Sands discovered that Croatia operated an extensive network of radio river gauges that monitored the river and its tributaries. Sands made arrangements to use File Transfer Protocol to send this data every two hours to WES where it is incorporated into the reports posted on the Web site.

Sands photographed a number of these river gauges and put them up on the Web site which users can access by clicking on the "photographs" button on the home page (ripple.wes.army.mil/staff/sands/photo.htm).

River Crossings Meet on the Web/B

The no-nonsense Sava River page presents a wealth of graphic information at two key river crossings - Zupanja and Slavonski Brod - including river stages one-day and 10-day forecasts and charts that display historical data on river elevations over the past 10 years. The WES home page makes it easy to find this information.

Another button provides users with weather forecasts for Europe complete with point-and-click charts. This link takes users to a site operated by the Institute for Global Environment and Science in Calverton Md. (grads.iges.org.pix/euro.fcst.html) .

The WES site also offers links to clickable maps for practically every major city and town in the former Yugoslavia on a home page operated by Dubravko Kakarigi a Croat living in the United States who set up the Web page to pay homage to his former homeland (www.acs.supernet.net/maps/). These links add value to the WES site making it close to a one-stop-shopping center for Operation Joint Endeavor forces and other users looking for weather and mapping information.

Posting for Posterity

Yet another Army home page shows that the efforts at the Sava River will not go ignored by history.The Army's Center for Military History (CMH) Joint Endeavor Web site (www.army.mil/cmh-pg/joint2.htm) details the work of Army historical detachments in recording the bridging of the Sava.

The CMS Joint Endeavor page also offers a snapshot of key events as well as photographs of the operation including an excellent photograph of the Russian forces under command of the 1st Armored Division's Task Force Eagle.

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