Estimated flood-inundation mapping for the Lower Blue River in Kansas City, Missouri, 2003-2005

Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5089




The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the city of Kansas City, Missouri, began a study in 2003 of the lower Blue River in Kansas City, Missouri, from Gregory Boulevard to the mouth at the Missouri River to determine the estimated extent of flood inundation in the Blue River valley from flooding on the lower Blue River and from Missouri River backwater. Much of the lower Blue River flood plain is covered by industrial development. Rapid development in the upper end of the watershed has increased the volume of runoff, and thus the discharge of flood events for the Blue River. Modifications to the channel of the Blue River began in late 1983 in response to the need for flood control. By 2004, the channel had been widened and straightened from the mouth to immediately downstream from Blue Parkway to convey a 30-year flood. A two-dimensional depth-averaged flow model was used to simulate flooding within a 2-mile study reach of the Blue River between 63rd Street and Blue Parkway. Hydraulic simulation of the study reach provided information for the design and performance of proposed hydraulic structures and channel improvements and for the production of estimated flood-inundation maps and maps representing an areal distribution of water velocity, both magnitude and direction. Flood profiles of the Blue River were developed between Gregory Boulevard and 63rd Street from stage elevations calculated from high water marks from the flood of May 19, 2004; between 63rd Street and Blue Parkway from two-dimensional hydraulic modeling conducted for this study; and between Blue Parkway and the mouth from an existing one-dimensional hydraulic model by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Twelve inundation maps were produced at 2-foot intervals for Blue Parkway stage elevations from 750 to 772 feet. Each map is associated with National Weather Service flood-peak forecast locations at 63rd Street, Blue Parkway, Stadium Drive, U.S. Highway 40, 12th Street, and the Missouri River at the Hannibal railroad bridge in Kansas City. The National Weather Service issues peak-stage forecasts for these locations during times of flooding. Missouri River backwater inundation profiles were developed using interpolated Missouri River stage elevations at the mouth of the Blue River. Twelve backwater-inundation maps were produced at 2-foot intervals for the mouth of the Blue River from 730.9 to 752.9. To provide public access to the information presented in this report, a World Wide Web site ( was created that displays the results of two-dimensional modeling between 63rd Street and Blue Parkway, estimated flood-inundation maps, estimated backwater-inundation maps, and the latest gage heights and National Weather Service stage forecast for each forecast location within the study area. In addition, the full text of this report, all tables, and all plates are available for download at

Study Area

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USGS Numbered Series
Estimated flood-inundation mapping for the Lower Blue River in Kansas City, Missouri, 2003-2005
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
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Contributing office(s):
Missouri Water Science Center
vi, 28 p. plus appendices
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