Mathematical (digital) models that simulate flood hydrographs from rainfall records have been developed for the following gaging stations in the Hillsborough and Alafia River basins of west-central Florida: Hillsborough River near Tampa, Alafia River at Lithia, and north Prong Alafia River near Keysville. These models, which were developed from historical streamflow and and rainfall records, are based on rainfall-runoff and unit-hydrograph procedures involving an arbitrary separation of the flood hydrograph. These models assume the flood hydrograph to be composed of only two flow components, direct (storm) runoff, and base flow. Expressions describing these two flow components are derived from streamflow and rainfall records and are combined analytically to form algorithms (models), which are programmed for processing on a digital computing system.
Most Hillsborough and Alafia River flood discharges can be simulated with expected relative errors less than or equal to 30 percent and flood peaks can be simulated with average relative errors less than 15 percent.
Because of the inadequate rainfall network that is used in obtaining input data for the North Prong Alafia River model, simulated peaks are frequently in error by more than 40 percent, particularly for storms having highly variable areal rainfall distribution.
Simulation errors are the result of rainfall sample errors and, to a lesser extent, model inadequacy. Data errors associated with the determination of mean basin precipitation are the result of the small number and poor areal distribution of rainfall stations available for use in the study. Model inadequacy, however, is attributed to the basic underlying theory, particularly the rainfall-runoff relation.
These models broaden and enhance existing water-management capabilities within these basins by allowing the establishment and implementation of programs providing for continued development in these areas. Specifically, the models serve not only as a basis for forecasting floods, but also for simulating hydrologic information needed in flood-plain mapping and delineating and evaluating alternative flood control and abatement plans.