The greatest flood disaster in the history of Tulsa, Oklahoma occurred during 8 hours from 2030 hours May 26 to 0430 hours May 27, 1984, as a result of intense rainfall centered over the metropolitan area. Storms of the magnitude that caused this flood are not uncommon to the southern great plains. Such storms are seldom documented in large urban areas. Total rainfall depth and rainfall distribution in the Tulsa metropolitan area during the May 26-27 storm were recorded by 16 recording rain gages. This report presents location of recording rain gages with corresponding rainfall histograms and mass curves, lines of equal rainfall depth (map A), and flood magnitudes and inundated areas of selected streams within the city (map B).
The limits of the study areas (fig. 1) are the corporate boundaries of Tulsa, an area of about 185 square miles. Streams draining the city are: Dirty Butter, Coal, and Mingo Creeks which drain northward into Bird Creek along the northern boundary of the city; and Cherry, Crow, Harlow, Joe Haikey, Fry, Vensel, Fred, and Mooser Creeks which flow into the Arkansas River along the southern part of the city. Flooding along Haikey, Fry, Fred, Vensel, and Mooser Creeks was not documented for this report. The Arkansas River is regulated by Keystone Dam upstream from Tulsa (fig. 1). The Arkansas River remained below flood stage during the storm.
Flooded areas in Tulsa (map B) were delineated on the topographic maps using flood profiles based on surveys of high-water marks identified immediately after the flood. The flood boundaries show the limits of stream flooding. Additional areas flooded because of overfilled storm drains or by sheet runoff are not shown in this report.
Data presented in this report, including rainfall duration and frequency, and flood discharges and elevations, provide city officials and consultants a technical basis for making flood-plain management decisions.