This report describes relations between flood peaks and hydrologic factors in a humid region with limited climatic variation but a diversity of terrain. Statistical multiple-regression techniques have been applied to hydrologic data on New England. Many topographic and climatic factors have been evaluated. and their relations to flood peaks have been examined.
Many of the factors that influence flood peaks are interrelated, and part of the investigation consisted of determining the most efficient factor in each of several groups of highly interrelated variables. Drainage area size was found to be the most important factor. Main-channel slope was found to be next in importance, and a simple yet efficient indicator of main-channel slope was developed. The surface area of lakes and ponds was found to be a factor significantly influencing peak discharges. Of several indices tested the intensity of rainfall for a given duration and frequency was found to be most highly related to the magnitude of peaks. The increase in peaks caused by snowmelt and frozen ground was found to be related to an index of winter temperature-the average number of degrees below freezing in January.
After the above-mentioned topographic and climatic characteristics had been taken into account, there remained deviations in peak discharges that showed an evident relation to orographic patterns. An orographic factor was mapped as defined by the peak discharges of record. Multiple-regression equations were developed that related, with acceptable accuracy, peak discharges of 1.2-to 300-year recurrence intervals to 6 hydrologic variables; 3 of the variables were topographic, 2 climatic, and 1 orographic. The remaining unexplained variations in flood-peak occurrence are believed attributable to the chance variation in storms.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Factors influencing the occurrence of floods in a humid region of diverse terrain
Water Supply Paper
U. S. Department of the Interior, Geological Survey ;