Estimation of flood-frequency characteristics of small urban streams in North Carolina

Water-Resources Investigations Report 96-4084




A statewide study was conducted to develop methods for estimating the magnitude and frequency of floods of small urban streams in North Carolina. This type of information is critical in the design of bridges, culverts and water-control structures, establishment of flood-insurance rates and flood-plain regulation, and for other uses by urban planners and engineers. Concurrent records of rainfall and runoff data collected in small urban basins were used to calibrate rainfall-runoff models. Historic rain- fall records were used with the calibrated models to synthesize a long- term record of annual peak discharges. The synthesized record of annual peak discharges were used in a statistical analysis to determine flood- frequency distributions. These frequency distributions were used with distributions from previous investigations to develop a database for 32 small urban basins in the Blue Ridge-Piedmont, Sand Hills, and Coastal Plain hydrologic areas. The study basins ranged in size from 0.04 to 41.0 square miles. Data describing the size and shape of the basin, level of urban development, and climate and rural flood charac- teristics also were included in the database. Estimation equations were developed by relating flood-frequency char- acteristics to basin characteristics in a generalized least-squares regression analysis. The most significant basin characteristics are drainage area, impervious area, and rural flood discharge. The model error and prediction errors for the estimating equations were less than those for the national flood-frequency equations previously reported. Resulting equations, which have prediction errors generally less than 40 percent, can be used to estimate flood-peak discharges for 2-, 5-, 10-, 25-, 50-, and 100-year recurrence intervals for small urban basins across the State assuming negligible, sustainable, in- channel detention or basin storage.

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Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Estimation of flood-frequency characteristics of small urban streams in North Carolina
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey ; Branch of Information Services [distributor],
Contributing office(s):
South Atlantic Water Science Center
iv, 21 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.
United States
North Carolina