Hydrology of the North Cascades region, Washington: 1. Runoff, precipitation, and storage characteristics

Water Resources Research
By:  and 



The time and space distributions of measured precipitation and measured runoff and of spring storage, which is approximately equal to the subsequent summer runoff of snowmelt and stored groundwater, have been analyzed for the North Cascades region of Washington. Neither precipitation nor runoff shows a consistent relationship with altitude, chiefly because of precipitation-shadowing effects in this region of high relief. The relationship between mean annual precipitation and altitude is improved considerably when a topographic mean altitude is used instead of the actual altitude of the weather station. However, the improvement is not sufficient to explain a number of discrepancies that still occur. Some of the scatter in a precipitation-altitude plot appears to be due to a deficient precipitation catch by high-altitude gages. When the dependence of runoff on precipitation was examined on an annual, seasonal, and monthly basis, it was found that only a few low-altitude gages correlated well with basin runoff. In several instances, annual (water year) runoff could be better predicted from winter precipitation than from annual precipitation. Precipitation and runoff were tested for changes with time and both appeared to have been increasing slightly but not at a statistically significant level. When the summer (May–September) fraction of the total annual runoff is plotted against mean basin altitude, a consistent, physically reasonable, mildly curvilinear relationship is revealed. On the basis of this relationship, by using several drainages with diverse area-altitude profiles the spring storage versus altitude distribution can be estimated for each basin. The area-altitude distribution is used instead of the mean altitude in this calculation because of the apparent nonlinear relationship between runoff and altitude.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Hydrology of the North Cascades region, Washington: 1. Runoff, precipitation, and storage characteristics
Series title Water Resources Research
DOI 10.1029/WR012i002p00187
Volume 12
Issue 2
Year Published 1976
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Washington Water Science Center
Description 16 p.
First page 187
Last page 202
Country United States
State Washington
Other Geospatial Cascade Mountains
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytics Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details