Regional flood probabilities

Water Resources Research
By:  and 



The T‐year annual maximum flood at a site is defined to be that streamflow, that has probability 1/T of being exceeded in any given year, and for a group of sites the corresponding regional flood probability (RFP) is the probability that at least one site will experience a T‐year flood in any given year. The RFP depends on the number of sites of interest and on the spatial correlation of flows among the sites. We present a Monte Carlo method for obtaining the RFP and demonstrate that spatial correlation estimates used in this method may be obtained with rank transformed data and therefore that knowledge of the at‐site peak flow distribution is not necessary. We examine the extent to which the estimates depend on specification of a parametric form for the spatial correlation function, which is known to be nonstationary for peak flows. It is shown in a simulation study that use of a stationary correlation function to compute RFPs yields satisfactory estimates for certain nonstationary processes. Application of asymptotic extreme value theory is examined, and a methodology for separating channel network and rainfall effects on RFPs is suggested. A case study is presented using peak flow data from the state of Washington. For 193 sites in the Puget Sound region it is estimated that a 100‐year flood will occur on the average every 4.5 years.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Regional flood probabilities
Series title Water Resources Research
DOI 10.1029/2001WR001140
Volume 39
Issue 4
Year Published 2003
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Description Article 1095; 15 p.
First page 4-1
Last page 4-15