Flood-Frequency Estimates for Ohio Streamgages Based on Data through Water Year 2015 and Techniques for Estimating Flood-Frequency Characteristics of Rural, Unregulated Ohio Streams

Scientific Investigations Report 2019-5018
Prepared in cooperation with the Ohio Department of Transportation



Estimates of the magnitudes of annual peak streamflows with annual exceedance probabilities of 0.5, 0.2, 0.1, 0.04, 0.02, 0.01, and 0.002 (equivalent to recurrence intervals of 2-, 5-, 10-, 25-, 50-, 100-, and 500-years, respectively) were computed for 391 streamgages in Ohio and adjacent states based on data collected through the 2015 water year. The flood-frequency estimates were computed following guidance outlined in Bulletin 17C, developed by the Advisory Committee on Water Information. The Bulletin 17C guidelines retain the basic statistical framework of the superseded Bulletin 17B guidelines; however, the Bulletin 17C guidelines add several enhancements including an improved method of moments approach for fitting the log-Pearson Type III (LPIII) distribution to the flood peaks (called the expected moments algorithm), a generalization of the Grubbs Beck low-outlier test (called the Multiple Grubbs Beck test) that permits identification of multiple potentially influential low floods, and new methods for estimating regional skew and uncertainty.

Equations for estimating flood-frequency characteristics at ungaged sites on rural, unregulated streams in Ohio were developed with a two-step process involving ordinary least-squares and generalized least-squares regression techniques. Data from 333 streamgages with 10 or more years of unregulated record were screened for redundancy and a regression dataset was selected that was composed of flood-frequency and basin-characteristic data for 275 streamgages in Ohio and adjacent states. Two sets of equations were developed—one set, referred to as the “simple model,” uses regression region and drainage area as regressor variables, and a second set, referred to as the “full model,” uses regression region, drainage area, main-channel slope, and the percentage of the watershed covered by water and wetlands as regressor variables.

The average standard errors of prediction ranged from about 40.5 to 46.5 percent for the simple-model equations and from about 37.2 to 40.3 percent for the full-model equations. For sites meeting the rural, unregulated criteria, flood-frequency estimates determined by means of LPIII analyses are reported along with weighted flood-frequency estimates, computed as a function of the LPIII estimates and the regression estimates. For sites with homogenous periods of regulation, flood-frequency estimates determined by means of LPIII analyses are reported. Ninety-five percent confidence limits are reported for all estimates.

Values of regressor variables were determined from digital spatial datasets by means of a geographic information system (GIS). The GIS datasets and the new full-model equations have been incorporated into Ohio’s StreamStats application, a web-based, GIS-backed system designed to facilitate the estimation of streamflow statistics at ungaged locations on streams.

Seasonal patterns in peak flows were assessed for 295 streamgages in Ohio. Annual peak flows occurred most frequently between January and April, with March having the highest frequency of occurrence. The month with the fewest number of annual peaks was October. Peak-of-record flows occurred most frequently in March, followed by January (months in which two of Ohio’s most severe widespread floods in recent history occurred). None of the peak-of-record flows occurred in October and only two occurred in November.

Temporal trend in annual peak flows were assessed for 133 streamgages on unregulated streams in Ohio with 30 or more years of systematic record. Trends were assessed by computing the rank correlation (as measured with the two-sided Kendall’s tau statistic) between time and annual peak flows. Weak but statistically significant trends were indicated at 15 of the 133 streamgages. Of the 15 streamgages with significant trend in annual peak flows, 12 had an upward trend (positive tau) and 3 had a downward trend (negative tau). All 12 streamgages with positive tau values were at latitudes north of 40°33', and streamgages with negative tau values were at latitudes south of 40°33'.

Suggested Citation

Koltun, G.F., 2019, Flood-frequency estimates for Ohio streamgages based on data through water year 2015 and techniques for estimating flood-frequency characteristics of rural, unregulated Ohio streams: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2019–5018, 25 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20195018.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Previous Investigations
  • Seasonal Patterns of Peak Flows
  • Magnitude and Frequency of Floods at Gaged Sites
  • Development of Regional Regression Equations
  • Weighting Flood-Frequency Estimates at Ungaged Sites with Data for a Nearby Gage
  • General Guidelines for Estimating Flood-Frequency Characteristics at Sites on Rural, Unregulated Streams
  • Limitations
  • Summary
  • References Cited
  • Appendix 1

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Flood-frequency estimates for Ohio streamgages based on data through water year 2015 and techniques for estimating flood-frequency characteristics of rural, unregulated Ohio streams
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2019-5018
DOI 10.3133/sir20195018
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Water Science Center
Description Report: vi, 25 p.; 2 Tables; Appendices 1.1-1.8; Data Releases
Country United States
State Ohio
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y