Evaluation of the erosional response of 95 recently burned watersheds in Colorado, New Mexico, and southern California to storm rainfall established the factors that best differentiate between debris-flow producing basins and those that produced other flow responses. These factors are drainage-basin morphology and lithology, and the presence or absence of water-repellent soils. Basins underlain by sedimentary rocks were most likely to produce debris flows that contain large material, and sand- and gravel-dominated debris flows were generated primarily from terrain underlain by decomposed granite. Basin-area and relief thresholds define the morphologic conditions under which both types of debris flows occurred. Debris flows containing large material were more likely to be produced from basins without water-repellent soils than from basins with water repellency. The occurrence of sand and gravel-dominated debris flows depended on the presence of water repellent soils. Copyright 2004 ASCE.