Regional flood probabilities

Water Resources Research



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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.

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Regional flood probabilities
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Water Resources Research
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Water Resources Research