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National water summary 1988-89: hydrologic events and floods and droughts

Water Supply Paper 2375

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Abstract

National Water Summary 1988-89 - Hydrologic Events and Floods and Droughts documents the occurrence in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands of two types of extreme hydrologic events floods and droughts on the basis of analysis of stream-discharge data. This report details, for the first time, the areal extent of the most notable floods and droughts in each State, portrays their severity in terms of annual peak discharge for floods and annual departure from long-term discharge for droughts for selected stream-gaging stations, and estimates how frequently floods and droughts of such severity can be expected to recur. These two types of extreme hydrologic events are very different in their duration, cause, areal extent, and effect on human activities. Floods are short-term phenomena that typically last only a few hours to a few days and are associated with weather systems that produce unusually large amounts of rain or that cause snow to melt quickly. The large amount of runoff produced causes rivers to overflow their banks and, thus, is highly dangerous to human life and property. In contrast, droughts are long-term phenomena that typically persist for months to a decade or more and are associated with the absence of precipitation producing weather. They affect large geographic areas that can be statewide, regional, or even nationwide in extent. Droughts can cause great economic hardship and even loss of life in developing countries, although the loss of life results almost wholly from diminished water supplies and catastrophic crop failures rather than from the direct and obvious peril to human life that is common to floods. The following discussion is an overview of the three parts of this 1988-89 National Water Summary "Hydrologic Conditions and Water-Related Events, Water Years 1988-89," "Hydrologic Perspectives on Water Issues," and "State Summaries of Floods and Droughts." Background information on sources of atmospheric moisture to the States from a study sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey to enable related information to be presented in each of the State summaries also is given.

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Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
National water summary 1988-89: hydrologic events and floods and droughts
Series title:
Water Supply Paper
Series number:
2375
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1991
Language:
English
Publisher:
U. S. Government Printing Office
Publisher location:
Washington, D.C.
Description:
x, 591 p.
Country:
United States