Objective definition of rainfall intensity-duration thresholds for post-fire flash floods and debris flows in the area burned by the Waldo Canyon fire, Colorado, USA

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Abstract

We present an objectively defined rainfall intensity-duration (I-D) threshold for the initiation of flash floods and debris flows for basins recently burned in the 2012 Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. Our results are based on 453 rainfall records which include 8 instances of hazardous flooding and debris flow from 10 July 2012 to 14 August 2013. We objectively defined the thresholds by maximizing the number of correct predictions of debris flow or flood occurrence while minimizing the rate of both Type I (false positive) and Type II (false negative) errors. The equation I = 11.6D−0.7 represents the I-D threshold (I, in mm/h) for durations (D, in hours) ranging from 0.083 h (5 min) to 1 h for basins burned by the 2012 Waldo Canyon fire. As periods of high-intensity rainfall over short durations (less than 1 h) produced all of the debris flow and flood events, real-time monitoring of rainfall conditions will result in very short lead times for early-warning. Our results highlight the need for improved forecasting of the rainfall rates during short-duration, high-intensity convective rainfall events.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Objective definition of rainfall intensity-duration thresholds for post-fire flash floods and debris flows in the area burned by the Waldo Canyon fire, Colorado, USA
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-09057-3_103
Volume 2
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Geologic Hazards Science Center
Description 4 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Conference publication
Larger Work Title Engineering Geology for Society and Territory
First page 621
Last page 624
Country United States
State Colorado
City Colorado Springs