A Presidential Disaster Declaration was issued for Massachusetts, with a focus on the northwestern counties, following flooding from tropical storm Irene on August 28–29, 2011. Three to 10 inches of rain fell during the storm on soils that were susceptible to flash flooding because of wet antecedent conditions. The gage height at one U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) streamgage rose nearly 20 feet in less than 4 hours because of the combination of saturated soils and intense rainfall. Eight of 16 USGS long-term streamgages in western Massachusetts set new peaks of record on August 28 or 29, 2011. To document the historic water levels of the streamflows from tropical storm Irene, the USGS identified, flagged, and surveyed 323 high-water marks in the Deerfield and Hudson- Hoosic River basins in northwestern Massachusetts. Areas targeted for high-water marks were generally upstream and downstream from structures along selected river reaches. Elevations from high-water marks can be used to confirm peak river stages or help compute peak streamflows, to calibrate hydraulic models, or to update flood-inundation and recovery maps. For areas in western Massachusetts that flooded as a result of tropical storm Irene, high-water marks surveyed for this study have helped to confirm or determine instantaneous peak river gage heights at several USGS streamgages.
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USGS Numbered Series
High-water marks from tropical storm Irene for selected river reaches in northwestern Massachusetts, August 2011