Re: Help me understand
Safety is certainly a key issue, but for many of the waters I fish, the flow gauges are also important for determining how waters will be fished (or even attempted at all). For steelhead, a spike in flow-rates may signal a banner day with a new influx of fish, while high water levels on the gauges can also mean its time to fish streamers. Certainly a look at the water itself is necessary in this case, but the gauges can help you decide if the long drive is worth it or if you're going to be "washed out".
Working out a way to convince my university to allow me to hold my TA office hours on the nearby creek...