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Hydrology, geomorphology, and dam-break modeling of the July 15, 1982, Lawn Lake Dam and Cascade Lake Dam failures, Larimer County, Colorado

Open-File Report 84-612

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Abstract

On July 15, 1982, Lawn Lake Dam, a 26-foot-high earthfill irrigation dam built in 1903 in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, failed, due to piping, releasing 674 acre-feet of water with a peak discharge of 18,000 cubic feet per second down the Roaring River. Three people were killed, and damages were estimated at $31 million. Cascade Lake Dam, downstream from Lawn Lake Dam, subsequently failed as a result of the flood, increasing the peak flow at this point from 7,210 cubic feet per second to 16,000 cubic feet per second. The flood wave took 3.28 hours to travel 12.5 miles to Lake Estes, where all the floodwater was stored. The channel of the Roaring River was scoured as much as 50 feet and widened 300 feet. An alluvial fan of 42.3 acres, containing 10 million cubic feet of material, was deposited at the mouth of the Roaring River, damming the Fall River and forming a 17-acre lake. Various methods were used to indirectly compute peak discharge, attenuation of flow, and flood traveltime. A version of the National Weather Service dam-break flood model was used to evaluate its performance on high-gradient streams, to provide supplemental hydrologic information, and to evaluate various scenarios of dam-break development. (USGS)

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Hydrology, geomorphology, and dam-break modeling of the July 15, 1982, Lawn Lake Dam and Cascade Lake Dam failures, Larimer County, Colorado
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
84-612
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1984
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey,
Description:
viii, 117 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.