Annual peak discharges having recurrence intervals of 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, and 500 years (T-year floods) were determined for 660 gaged sites in Montana and in adjacent areas of Idaho, Wyoming, and Canada, based on data through water year 1998. The updated flood-frequency information was subsequently used in regression analyses, either ordinary or generalized least squares, to develop equations relating T-year floods to various basin and climatic characteristics, equations relating T-year floods to active-channel width, and equations relating T-year floods to bankfull width. The equations can be used to estimate flood frequency at ungaged sites. Montana was divided into eight regions, within which flood characteristics were considered to be reasonably homogeneous, and the three sets of regression equations were developed for each region.
A measure of the overall reliability of the regression equations is the average standard error of prediction. The average standard errors of prediction for the equations based on basin and climatic characteristics ranged from 37.4 percent to 134.1 percent. Average standard errors of prediction for the equations based on active-channel width ranged from 57.2 percent to 141.3 percent. Average standard errors of prediction for the equations based on bankfull width ranged from 63.1 percent to 155.5 percent. In most regions, the equations based on basin and climatic characteristics generally had smaller average standard errors of prediction than equations based on active-channel or bankfull width. An exception was the Southeast Plains Region, where all equations based on active-channel width had smaller average standard errors of prediction than equations based on basin and climatic characteristics or bankfull width.
Methods for weighting estimates derived from the basin- and climatic-characteristic equations and the channel-width equations also were developed. The weights were based on the cross correlation of residuals from the different methods and the average standard errors of prediction. When all three methods were combined, the average standard errors of prediction ranged from 37.4 percent to 120.2 percent. Weighting of estimates reduced the standard errors of prediction for all T-year flood estimates in four regions, reduced the standard errors of prediction for some T-year flood estimates in two regions, and provided no reduction in average standard error of prediction in two regions. A computer program for solving the regression equations, weighting estimates, and determining reliability of individual estimates was developed and placed on the USGS Montana District World Wide Web page. A new regression method, termed Region of Influence regression, also was tested. Test results indicated that the Region of Influence method was not as reliable as the regional equations based on generalized least squares regression.
Two additional methods for estimating flood frequency at ungaged sites located on the same streams as gaged sites also are described. The first method, based on a drainage-area-ratio adjustment, is intended for use on streams where the ungaged site of interest is located near a gaged site. The second method, based on interpolation between gaged sites, is intended for use on streams that have two or more streamflow-gaging stations.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Methods for estimating flood frequency in Montana based on data through water year 1998
Water-Resources Investigations Report
v, 101 p. : ill. (some col.), maps (1 col.) ; 28 cm.