There's a USGS river gauge located about 200 yards from my property, and having it that close means that I can pretty much consider it to be my personal river level indicator -- pretty handy.
I've been learning that the forecasts tend to be a little conservative - that is, even though the current forecast (the picture above) says that we'll have flooding, the actual river level isn't usually that high. I can't blame the USGS for that - they'd get a lot of grief if it did flood when they didn't forecast it.
But it's a reminder to make sure that all of the cows are in the barn tonight, that the equipment is parked on higher ground, and that the car is safely tucked into the carport, which is build above the flood level.
the gauage level in this picture is the actual depth -- if it says it's 3' now, and 13' later, the river actually does go up the whole 10'; it's this regions version of a flash flood. the water rises dramatically and then drops about as fast.
Every year two or three fishermen or rafters drown on the river; when it gets above about 10' on the gauge, the speed increases dramatically, and there's usually a fair bit of debris -- mostly trees and stumps - that flow down the river.
My old farm was completely in the flood plain, and I have to say that I'm liking this a lot better. Just move stuff a few feet, and sit and watch nature rage.