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The magnitude and frequency of the 1993 peak discharges in the upper Mississippi River Basin are characterized by applying Bulletin 17B and L-moment methods to annual peak discharges at 115 unregulated watersheds in the basin. The analysis indicated that the 1993 flood was primarily a 50-year or less event on unregulated watersheds less than about 50,000 km2 (20,000 mi2). Of the 115 stations analyzed, the Bulletin 17B and L-moment methods were used to identify 89 and 84 stations, respectively, having recurrence intervals of 50 years or less, and 31 and 26 stations, respectively, having recurrence intervals greater than 50 years for the 1993 peak discharges. The 1993 flood in the upper Mississippi River Basin was significant in terms of (a) peak discharges with recurrence intervals greater than 50 years at approximately 25 percent of the stations analyzed, (b) peak discharges of record at 33 of the 115 stations analyzed, (c) extreme magnitude, duration, and areal extent of precipitation, (d) flood volumes with recurrence intervals greater than 100 years at many stations, and (e) extreme flood damage and loss of lives. Furthermore, peak discharges on several larger, regulated watersheds also exceeded the 100-year recurrence interval. However, for about 75 percent of the 115 unregulated stations in the analysis, the frequency of the 1993 peak discharges was less than a 50-year event.
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Magnitude and frequency of peak discharges for Mississippi River Basin Flood of 1993