Peak discharge, flood frequency, and peak stage of floods on Big Cottonwood Creek at U.S. Highway 50 near Coaldale, Colorado, and Fountain Creek below U.S. Highway 24 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, 2016

Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5107
Prepared in cooperation with the Colorado Department of Transportation
By: , and 

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Abstract

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Colorado Department of Transportation, determined the peak discharge, annual exceedance probability (flood frequency), and peak stage of two floods that took place on Big Cottonwood Creek at U.S. Highway 50 near Coaldale, Colorado (hereafter referred to as “Big Cottonwood Creek site”), on August 23, 2016, and on Fountain Creek below U.S. Highway 24 in Colorado Springs, Colorado (hereafter referred to as “Fountain Creek site”), on August 29, 2016. A one-dimensional hydraulic model was used to estimate the peak discharge. To define the flood frequency of each flood, peak-streamflow regional-regression equations or statistical analyses of USGS streamgage records were used to estimate annual exceedance probability of the peak discharge. A survey of the high-water mark profile was used to determine the peak stage, and the limitations and accuracy of each component also are presented in this report. Collection and computation of flood data, such as peak discharge, annual exceedance probability, and peak stage at structures critical to Colorado’s infrastructure are an important addition to the flood data collected annually by the USGS.

The peak discharge of the August 23, 2016, flood at the Big Cottonwood Creek site was 917 cubic feet per second (ft3/s) with a measurement quality of poor (uncertainty plus or minus 25 percent or greater). The peak discharge of the August 29, 2016, flood at the Fountain Creek site was 5,970 ft3/s with a measurement quality of poor (uncertainty plus or minus 25 percent or greater).

The August 23, 2016, flood at the Big Cottonwood Creek site had an annual exceedance probability of less than 0.01 (return period greater than the 100-year flood) and had an annual exceedance probability of greater than 0.005 (return period less than the 200-year flood). The August 23, 2016, flood event was caused by a precipitation event having an annual exceedance probability of 1.0 (return period of 1 year, or the 1-year storm), which is a statistically common (high probability) storm. The Big Cottonwood Creek site is downstream from the Hayden Pass Fire burn area, which dramatically altered the hydrology of the watershed and caused this statistically rare (low probability) flood from a statistically common (high probability) storm. The peak flood stage at the cross section closest to the U.S. Highway 50 culvert was 6,438.32 feet (ft) above the North American Datum of 1988 (NAVD 88).

The August 29, 2016, flood at the Fountain Creek site had an estimated annual exceedance probability of 0.5505 (return period equal to the 1.8-year flood). The August 29, 2016, flood event was caused by a precipitation event having an annual exceedance probability of 1.0 (return period of 1 year, or the 1-year storm). The peak stage during this flood at the cross section closest to the U.S. Highway 24 bridge was 5,832.89 ft (NAVD 88).

Slope-area indirect discharge measurements were carried out at the Big Cottonwood Creek and Fountain Creek sites to estimate peak discharge of the August 23, 2016, flood and August 29, 2016, flood, respectively. The USGS computer program Slope-Area Computation Graphical User Interface was used to compute the peak discharge by adding the surveyed cross sections with Manning roughness coefficient assignments to the high-water marks. The Manning roughness coefficients for each cross section were estimated in the field using the Cowan method.

Suggested Citation

Kohn, M.S., Stevens, M.R., Mommandi, Amanullah, and Khan, A.R., 2017, Peak discharge, flood frequency, and peak stage of floods on Big Cottonwood Creek at U.S. Highway 50 near Coaldale, Colorado, and Fountain Creek below U.S. Highway 24 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, 2016: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5107, 58 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20175107.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Big Cottonwood Creek at U.S. Highway 50 near Coaldale, Colorado
  • Fountain Creek below U.S. Highway 24 in Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Summary
  • References Cited
  • Appendix 1. Survey field Notes from Big Cottonwood Creek at U.S. Highway 50 near Coaldale, Colorado
  • Appendix 2. Photos of High-Water Marks from Big Cottonwood Creek at U.S. Highway 50 near Coaldale, Colorado
  • Appendix 3. Photos of Cross Sections from Big Cottonwood Creek at U.S. Highway 50 near Coaldale, Colorado
  • Appendix 4. Manning Roughness Coefficient (n) Assignments and Channel Conditions for the Cross Sections on Big Cottonwood Creek at U.S. Highway 50 near Coaldale, Colorado
  • Appendix 5. Plots Showing the Cross Sections with Manning Roughness Coefficients (n) Assignments for Big Cottonwood Creek at U.S. Highway 50 near Coaldale, Colorado
  • Appendix 6. Survey Field Notes from Fountain Creek below U.S. Highway 24 in Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Appendix 7. Photos of High-Water Marks from Fountain Creek below U.S. Highway 24 in Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Appendix 8. Photos of Cross Sections from Fountain Creek below U.S. Highway 24 in Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Appendix 9. Manning Roughness Coefficient (n) Assignments and Channel Conditions for the Cross Sections on Fountain Creek below U.S. Highway 24 in Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Appendix 10. Plots Showing the Cross Sections with Manning Roughness Coefficients (n) Assignments for Fountain Creek below U.S. Highway 24 in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Peak discharge, flood frequency, and peak stage of floods on Big Cottonwood Creek at U.S. Highway 50 near Coaldale, Colorado, and Fountain Creek below U.S. Highway 24 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, 2016
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2017-5107
DOI 10.3133/sir20175107
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Colorado Water Science Center
Description Report: vii, 58 p.; Appendixes
Country United States
State Colorado
City Coaldale, Colorado Springs
Other Geospatial Big Cottonwood Creek, Fountain Creek
Online Only (Y/N) Y