The flash flood in southwestern Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, May 8, 1993, was the result of an intense 3-hour rainfall on saturated ground or impervious surfaces. The total precipitation of 5.28 inches was close to the 3-hour, 100-year frequency and produced extensive flooding. The most serious flooding was on Twin, Brock, and Lightning Creeks. Four people died in this flood. Over 1,900 structures were damaged along the 3 creeks. There were about $3 million in damages to Oklahoma City public facilities, the majority of which were in the three basins.
A study was conducted to determine the magnitude of the May 8, 1993, flood peak discharge in these three creeks in southwestern Oklahoma City and compare these peaks with published flood estimates. Flood peak-discharge estimates for these creeks were determined at 11 study sites using a step-backwater analysis to match the flood water-surface profiles defined by high-water marks.
The unit discharges during peak runoff ranged from 881 cubic feet per second per square mile for Lightning Creek at SW 44th Street to 3,570 cubic feet per second per square mile for Brock Creek at SW 59th Street. The ratios of the 1993 flood peak discharges to the Federal Emergency Management Agency 100-year flood peak discharges ranged from 1.25 to 3.29. The water-surface elevations ranged from 0.2 foot to 5.9 feet above the Federal Emergency Management Agency 500-year flood water-surface elevations.
The very large flood peaks in these 3 small urban basins were the result of very intense rainfall in a short period of time, close to 100 percent runoff due to ground surfaces being essentially impervious, and the city streets acting as efficient conveyances to the main channels. The unit discharges compare in magnitude to other extraordinary Oklahoma urban floods.