New Orleans Installs New High Sierra Electronics’ Flood Warning System

The City of New Orleans has installed a new automated Flood Early Warning System comprising High Sierra Electronics’ sensors, weather stations, and roadway warning signs. The High Water Detection Systems (HWDS), installed at 12 underpasses throughout the City, continuously monitor rainfall and water level data in real time and are designed to improve public safety.

Advanced High Water Detection System Monitors Around the Clock

Motorists often underestimate how quickly and deep the water can get at the low-lying underpasses.
Motorists often underestimate how quickly and deep the water can get at the low-lying underpasses.

It doesn’t take much rain for the underpasses in the City to flood during heavy or sustained rain storms. Motorists often underestimate how quickly and deep the water can get and can find themselves stuck when their vehicle stalls out in high water. All too often, first responders and emergency crews have had perform water rescues at these underpasses.

The new advanced warning system detects and monitors real-time rainfall and rising water conditions around the clock in each of the high-risk areas. As certain conditions and thresholds are exceeded, the system automatically triggers “road closed” signage and beacon warning lights to alert drivers to the flooding hazard. Data from the various sensors and weather stations are continuously collected 24/7 by Contrail® web-based software. As well as providing visualization to City personnel, the software automatically processes, analyzes, and monitors this information for potential flooding and sends automatic alerts and detailed notifications to relevant City personnel and emergency responders to give them advance warning of impending flood conditions.

High Water Detection Warning Sign
New automated High Water Detection and Flood Warning System includes “Road Closed” signs and flashing beacons during roadway flooding events to warn motorists

Beyond warning motorists to turn around, the flood warning system will also provide an additional layer of critical, real-time information to the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (NOHSEP), the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans, and the National Weather Service during storms. Each installation includes a weather station that measures the real-time rate of rainfall, rainfall total, temperature, and wind speed at the underpass location.

“Impacts from storms can be highly localized,” said NOHSEP Director Collin Arnold. “Having twelve calibrated weather stations spread throughout the city will give our emergency managers and our drainage partners significantly more situational awareness to make critical and timely decisions during storms.”

Road closure data from the flood warning system will also eventually be displayed publicly on the City’s real-time road hazard website,, enabling motorists to plan ahead.

The system is scalable, so as funds become available, additional locations of frequent street flooding will be considered for installation.

More on this story can be viewed on the City of New Orleans website here.

Video: Watch WWL-TV coverage of new flood warning system for City of New Orleans
Video: Watch WWL-TV coverage of new flood warning system for City of New Orleans



Contrail® is a registered trademark of OneRain Incorporated, a sister company of High Sierra Electronics, Inc. High Sierra Electronics and OneRain are part of the AE Monitoring family of innovators.

Flooded Road Safety – New High Water Detection System for City of McKinney Texas

The City of McKinney, Texas, will install an automated High Water Detection System (HWDS) in areas close to Wilson Creek that have a history of flash flooding. During heavy or sustained rainfall events, water in the Wilson Creek rises rapidly causing several roadways in the City to flood with little or no warning. The new HWDS system, designed by High Sierra Electronics (, collects data in real time from several water level sensors and then triggers flashing lights to signal to motorists that it’s dangerous to cross the road. The move by the City is to help improve public safety by providing advance warnings to motorists and pedestrians that flooding is imminent or occurring. The project is in cooperation with the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) and the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB).


Driver safety during roadway flooding is of great importance. Since 2015, the City’s emergency management team has made five rescues where vehicles on these roads have been swept away in the water caused by road flooding.

The High Water Detection System (HWDS) solution, comprising water level sensors, flashing lights and signage, will be installed at five points along two roads near the Wilson Creek. The system is fully integrated for 2-way communication with Contrail software by OneRain, to track the rising waters and help emergency responders and City public works staff to make better decisions about potential flood risks. As the water rises to pre-determined levels, the signs and flashers will activate to warn drivers and pedestrians about the potential of flooding or that it is happening.

Data from the HWDS, along with other regional data, will be accessible to the public via Contrail online portal where users will be able to check the status of the roadways prior to traveling.

See more on this news with a report by Ben Russell, NBC5 News, Dallas-Fort Worth

About High Sierra Electronics
High Sierra Electronics was founded in 1992 and is headquartered in Grass Valley, California, with additional offices in San Antonio and Fort Worth, TX, and Louisville, KY. High Sierra specializes in flood warning sensors, equipment, and transmitters for public and improved traffic safety. For more information visit

#floodwarning #hwds #roadweather #lowwatercrossing #roadflooding #texasflooding


Driver Safety During Roadway Flooding

Safe to Proceed: Roadway Flooding Solution

Author: Frank Gutierrez, Regional Sales Manager at High Sierra Electronics, Inc. for South Central/Southeast U.S.A. 


Flooding causes more deaths and property damage in the U.S. than any other severe weather related event¹. The reason that so many people drown during flooding is because few of them realize the incredible power of water. A mere six inches of fast-moving water can knock over an adult. It takes only two feet of rushing water to carry away most vehicles, which includes pick-up trucks and SUVs.


Texas is prone to extremely heavy rains and flooding with half of the world record rainfall rates (accumulations in 48 hour less). It also has the distinction of being the state with the most flood-related deaths in the past thirty-six years. Bexar County in Central Texas, about 190 miles west of Houston, is particularly vulnerable because storms stall along the Balcones escarpment. This region has earned the nickname “flash flood alley”. Due to this geography, floods are a natural hazard and a regular occurrence.

In order to better prepare residents, Bexar County officials implemented a High Water Detection System (HWDS) in 2007. The High Sierra Electronics, Inc. (HSE) system has evolved over the years and now includes more than 100 sites. It uses a combination of rainfall and water level gauges to monitor conditions at low points on the roadways. When water rises to a pre-determined unsafe level, the sensor(s) automatically trigger flashing beacons and/or barrier gates. The system is solar powered and works during power outages (i.e., extreme weather events). The system provides control even in remote locations and County officials can receive text or email alerts when the system is activated.

Bexar County Texas Macaway High Water Detection System (HWDS) by High Sierra Electronics, Inc.


Information from the HWDS feeds a Bexar County public web site known as HALT, High Water Alert Lifesaving Technology. The HALT system is a tool used to warn drivers when there is too much water over the roadway to help prevent a potential drowning disaster. The public is encouraged to visit!/main/map where a map displays current flood information and emergency road closures. More specific information can be obtained by clicking (highlighting an area) on the map or entering a location. Alerts via a Twitter feed are also available.

Likewise, the City of San Antonio (within Bexar County) has implemented their own program known as SAFE, San Antonio Flood Emergency. The City emphasizes being prepared, being informed, being safe. They utilize HSE’s HWDS in the same manner with flashing beacons and automatic barrier gates. In neighboring Comal County, HSE was awarded a contract in 2010 for a similar project involving the installation of more than thirty stations. Plans are currently underway in coordination with the City of New Orleans’ Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (NOHSEP) to deploy 24 stations with flashing beacons in August 2018.


(1) NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters (2018).



About High Sierra Electronics
High Sierra Electronics was founded in 1992 and is headquartered in Grass Valley, California, with additional offices in San Antonio and Fort Worth, TX, and Louisville, KY. High Sierra specializes in flood warning sensors, equipment, and transmitters for public and improved traffic safety. For more information visit


Fog Warning System for Illinois Power Plant

Fog is a Common Phenomenon at Illinois Power Plant


High Sierra Electronics completed the installation of  a visibility warning system at a power plant in southwest Illinois.

High Sierra Electronics and Traffic Control Corporation partnered together to solve an interesting problem at the Prairie State Energy Campus near Marissa, Illinois. When the conditions are right, localized dense fog forms along County Road 12 adjacent to the power plant. In many cases, the fog formation results because of added water vapor from the power plants steam vents. This causes low visibility and dangerous driving conditions for the public. It was decided that a warning system needed to be put in place to warn the traveling public to fog along the roadway.

The system designed uses a minimalist approach utilizing highly accurate and dependable equipment to provide a low cost system that will work for years to come. The warning system consists of six evenly spaced visibility sensor stations and two sign stations located on either end of the problem area along County Road 12.

The visibility sensor stations utilize the HSE Model 5434 visibility sensor to send a signal to the TCC provided radio when a low visibility threshold is met. An LED mounted to the bottom of each visibility sensor station cabinet alerts the system administrators which station triggered the alert. The solar system and flashing LED is controlled by HSE Model 5315-01 MPPT Solar Charger and Load Control.

The sign stations consist of a flashing beacon sign and a LED sign to warn motorists of fog conditions ahead.  A signal is sent to activate the sign stations when fog is present at any of the visibility sensor stations.

To learn more about the system described or if you have a similar application please contact High Sierra Electronics at 800-275-2080.


#fogwarningsystem #roadsafety #roadweather

Guadalupe River Flood Siren System Project

High Sierra Electronics was awarded a project to improve the Guadalupe River Flood Siren System.  The project is a cooperative effort between The Water Orientated Recreational District of Comal County, the City of New Braunfels, Comal County’s Engineering Office, and Guadalupe County.  In addition to river gauge stations, the system includes several warning sirens that will automatically activate when the water level rises to a pre-determined unsafe level.