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News Release

U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey

Release: September 8, 2004
Bob Kimbrough
253-428-3600, ext. 2608

John Clemens
253-428-3600, ext. 2635

Vandals Hit Snoqualmie River Flood-Warning Gage

Vandals cut the wires to flow-measuring instruments, dismantled a cableway car, and shot through a suspension cable at an important stream-gaging station on the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River near Tanner, Wash., according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The station has been repeatedly hit by vandals since April, with the latest damage in August.

The Snoqualmie River station is one of several key USGS stations that feed real-time river data to King County’s flood warning system. The station is also part of the USGS network of about 240 satellite-linked stations on Washington rivers, streams, and lakes.

The wires linking submerged sensors to the gage’s satellite transmitter were severed cleanly, and an electrical junction box had been opened carefully with a screwdriver.

“Someone took their time in disabling our equipment,” said USGS hydrologist Bob Kimbrough. “Luckily, we weren’t in any flooding conditions at the time, but vandalism like this could threaten the safety of people in the Snoqualmie River Basin.”

About a month after the wires were cut, the cableway car attached to the cable suspended over the Snoqualmie was partially taken apart. Gunshot damage to the suspension cable was also found, Kimbrough said. USGS scientists use the cableway car to travel out over the river to lower streamflow-measuring instruments into the river.

“Damaged cables and cableway cars endanger the lives of USGS personnel who use them to do their work over the rivers,” said Kimbrough.

To see the real-time data from this USGS gaging station, go to

Both incidents are under investigation, and the gaging station is being monitored closely. Anyone with any information about these incidents is asked to call the King County Sheriff’s Office, 206-296-4155, e-mail

The USGS serves the nation by providing reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; and enhance and protect our quality of life.


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