Wildfire can significantly alter the hydrologic response of a watershed to the extent that even modest rainstorms can produce dangerous flash floods and debris flows. In this report, empirical models are used to predict the probability and magnitude of debris-flow occurrence in response to a 10-year rainstorm for the 2013 Springs fire in Ventura County, California. Overall, the models predict a relatively high probability (60–80 percent) of debris flow for 9 of the 99 drainage basins in the burn area in response to a 10-year recurrence interval design storm. Predictions of debris-flow volume suggest that debris flows may entrain a significant volume of material, with 28 of the 99 basins identified as having potential debris-flow volumes greater than 10,000 cubic meters. These results of the relative combined hazard analysis suggest there is a moderate likelihood of significant debris-flow hazard within and downstream of the burn area for nearby populations, infrastructure, wildlife, and water resources. Given these findings, we recommend that residents, emergency managers, and public works departments pay close attention to weather forecasts and National Weather Service-issued Debris Flow and Flash Flood Outlooks, Watches, and Warnings, and that residents adhere to any evacuation orders.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Emergency assessment of post-fire debris-flow hazards for the 2013 Springs Fire, Ventura County, California