Flood discharges were estimated for recurrence intervals of 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, and 500 years for 94 streamflow stations in west-central Florida. Most of the stations are located within the 10,000 square-mile, 16-county area that forms the Southwest Florida Water Management District. All stations had at least 10 years of homogeneous record, and none have flood discharges that are significantly affected by regulation or urbanization.
Guidelines established by the U.S. Water Resources Council in Bulletin 17B were used to estimate flood discharges from gaging station records. Multiple linear regression analysis was then used to mathematically relate estimates of flood discharge for selected recurrence intervals to explanatory basin characteristics. Contributing drainage area, channel slope, and the percent of total drainage area covered by lakes (percent lake area) were the basin characteristics that provided the best regression estimates. The study area was subdivided into four geographic regions to further refine the regression equations.
Region 1 at the northern end of the study area includes large rivers that are characteristic of the rolling karst terrain of northern Florida. Only a small part of Region 1 lies within the boundaries of the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Contributing drainage area and percent lake area were the most statistically significant basin characteristics in Region 1; the prediction error of the regression equations varied with the recurrence interval and ranged from 57 to 69 percent.
In the three other regions of the study area, contributing drainage area, channel slope, and percent lake area were the most statistically significant basin characteristics, and are the three characteristics that can be used to best estimate the magnitude and frequency of floods on most streams within the Southwest Florida Water Management District. The Withlacoochee River Basin dominates Region 2; the prediction error of the regression models in the region ranged from 65 to 68 percent. The basins that drain into the northern part of Tampa Bay and the upper reaches of the Peace River Basin are in Region 3, which had prediction errors ranging from 54 to 74 percent. Region 4, at the southern end of the study area, had prediction errors that ranged from 40 to 56 percent.
Estimates of flood discharge become more accurate as longer periods of record are used for analyses; results of this study should be used in lieu of results from earlier U.S. Geological Survey studies of flood magnitude and frequency in west-central Florida. A comparison of current results with earlier studies indicates that use of a longer period of record with additional high-water events produces substantially higher flood-discharge estimates for many gaging stations. Another comparison indicates that the use of a computed, generalized skew in a previous study in 1979 tended to overestimate flood discharges.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Estimating the magnitude and frequency of floods for streams in west-central Florida, 2001