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Hydrologic Hazards

Too much water or too little can cause serious problems for the people and other species reliant on water. In addition to real-time monitoring of conditions across Washington State, we investigate how extreme events like wildfires and floods impact hydrologic systems.

Filter Total Items: 14

Osoyoos Ice Jam

The Issue: Ice jams can occur at the outlet of Osoyoos Lake on the border of Canada and the United States, resulting in a decrease or complete interruption in streamflow on the Okanogan River. These ice jams appear to be occurring at a greater frequency than they have in the past and interruptions in streamflow can hinder the passage of anadromous fish and impact downstream water rights and water...
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Osoyoos Ice Jam

The Issue: Ice jams can occur at the outlet of Osoyoos Lake on the border of Canada and the United States, resulting in a decrease or complete interruption in streamflow on the Okanogan River. These ice jams appear to be occurring at a greater frequency than they have in the past and interruptions in streamflow can hinder the passage of anadromous fish and impact downstream water rights and water...
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Bolt Creek Wildfire Sediment Runoff and Water Quality

The Issue: Scientists and water-resource managers recognize the increasing impact of wildfires on water supply in the western U.S. The increasing frequency and severity of wildfires are linked to changes in snowpack, warmer temperatures, and drought. Sedimentation following wildfire can impact aquatic habitat, reservoir storage capacity, water quality, and thus public drinking water supplies...
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Bolt Creek Wildfire Sediment Runoff and Water Quality

The Issue: Scientists and water-resource managers recognize the increasing impact of wildfires on water supply in the western U.S. The increasing frequency and severity of wildfires are linked to changes in snowpack, warmer temperatures, and drought. Sedimentation following wildfire can impact aquatic habitat, reservoir storage capacity, water quality, and thus public drinking water supplies...
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Hydrogeologic Framework for Lower Duwamish River Valley, Washington

The Issue: Most of the Lower Duwamish River Valley in Seattle, Washington, is less than 20 feet above sea level; consequently, the river valley is prone to flooding during high tides, extreme rainfall, and high streamflow. In addition, groundwater inundation—localized coastal flooding due to a rise of the groundwater table with global sea-level rise—may compound flooding issues in the area. The...
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Hydrogeologic Framework for Lower Duwamish River Valley, Washington

The Issue: Most of the Lower Duwamish River Valley in Seattle, Washington, is less than 20 feet above sea level; consequently, the river valley is prone to flooding during high tides, extreme rainfall, and high streamflow. In addition, groundwater inundation—localized coastal flooding due to a rise of the groundwater table with global sea-level rise—may compound flooding issues in the area. The...
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Post-wildfire sedimentation and release of metals to Conconully Reservoir, Washington

The Issue: Wildfires can negatively impact reservoirs and water supply. On August 4th, 2021, a lightning strike started the Muckamuck fire in Okanagan County, Washington. The fire burned approximately 13,297 acres (~21 square miles) of forest and shrubland before it was contained. The burn engulfed a large portion of the area which drains into the Conconully Reservoir, a popular location for...
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Post-wildfire sedimentation and release of metals to Conconully Reservoir, Washington

The Issue: Wildfires can negatively impact reservoirs and water supply. On August 4th, 2021, a lightning strike started the Muckamuck fire in Okanagan County, Washington. The fire burned approximately 13,297 acres (~21 square miles) of forest and shrubland before it was contained. The burn engulfed a large portion of the area which drains into the Conconully Reservoir, a popular location for...
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Analysis of USGS Surface Water Monitoring Networks

The issue: National interests in water information are important but challenging to incorporate into planning and operation of a monitoring network driven by local information needs. These interests include an understanding of the spatial variability in water availability across the United States, anthro-physical factors including climate and land use that affect water availability, and federal...
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Analysis of USGS Surface Water Monitoring Networks

The issue: National interests in water information are important but challenging to incorporate into planning and operation of a monitoring network driven by local information needs. These interests include an understanding of the spatial variability in water availability across the United States, anthro-physical factors including climate and land use that affect water availability, and federal...
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Channel change monitoring following the Pilchuck Dam removal

The issue: In the summer of 2020, the Pilchuck Dam will be removed, allowing salmon access to the upper third of the Pilchuck River watershed for the first time in over a century. This removal will be associated with a short period increased sediment delivery, as the river re-works material trapped behind the dam. While the volume of impounded sediment is small and major changes in the downstream...
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Channel change monitoring following the Pilchuck Dam removal

The issue: In the summer of 2020, the Pilchuck Dam will be removed, allowing salmon access to the upper third of the Pilchuck River watershed for the first time in over a century. This removal will be associated with a short period increased sediment delivery, as the river re-works material trapped behind the dam. While the volume of impounded sediment is small and major changes in the downstream...
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SR 530 Slide

In the immediate aftermath of the SR530 Landslide, the USGS supported first responders and decision-makers as a key member of the collaborative effort to monitor the stability of the landslide deposit and the associated impoundment of the North Fork Stillaguamish River during rescue operations. With the initial disaster response now over, longer-term questions have arisen regarding the stability...
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SR 530 Slide

In the immediate aftermath of the SR530 Landslide, the USGS supported first responders and decision-makers as a key member of the collaborative effort to monitor the stability of the landslide deposit and the associated impoundment of the North Fork Stillaguamish River during rescue operations. With the initial disaster response now over, longer-term questions have arisen regarding the stability...
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Raging River Temperature

The Issue: Large, in-channel wood that helps to create and maintain healthy aquatic habitat in rivers throughout the Pacific Northwest was removed from many rivers in the past. In 2009, King County put wood back into the river to restore the Raging River watershed. To guide the county's restoration of the Raging River watershed, managers need to know the effect of restoration actions on in-stream...
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Raging River Temperature

The Issue: Large, in-channel wood that helps to create and maintain healthy aquatic habitat in rivers throughout the Pacific Northwest was removed from many rivers in the past. In 2009, King County put wood back into the river to restore the Raging River watershed. To guide the county's restoration of the Raging River watershed, managers need to know the effect of restoration actions on in-stream...
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Pasco Groundwater Storage

The Issue: Since 1952 water diverted from the Columbia River has been used to irrigate parts of the Pasco basin in eastern Washington. As a result of the surface-water irrigation, groundwater levels generally have risen in the area. The increases in groundwater fluxes and groundwater in storage have created a need to better understand the flow system before and after the start of irrigation to...
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Pasco Groundwater Storage

The Issue: Since 1952 water diverted from the Columbia River has been used to irrigate parts of the Pasco basin in eastern Washington. As a result of the surface-water irrigation, groundwater levels generally have risen in the area. The increases in groundwater fluxes and groundwater in storage have created a need to better understand the flow system before and after the start of irrigation to...
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FEMA High Water Marks - Western Washington Flood, January 2009

The Issue: Significant flooding occurred throughout western Washington on January 7 and 8, 2009. As part of its Hazard Mitigation effort, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region X needs documentation on the extent of flooding for verifying Preliminary Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRMs) and corresponding Flood Insurance Studies (FIS) that have been recently completed, or are...
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FEMA High Water Marks - Western Washington Flood, January 2009

The Issue: Significant flooding occurred throughout western Washington on January 7 and 8, 2009. As part of its Hazard Mitigation effort, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region X needs documentation on the extent of flooding for verifying Preliminary Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRMs) and corresponding Flood Insurance Studies (FIS) that have been recently completed, or are...
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FEMA Technical Support

9722-DRE00 - FEMA Technical Support, Pre-Declaration, January 2009 Floods - Completed FY2009 A wide plume of warm moist air streaming in from west of Hawaii caused widespread rainfall throughout western Washington in early January 2009. National Weather Service flood stages were exceeded in many different basins, most of which drain from the west side of the Cascade Range. Flows at four long-term...
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FEMA Technical Support

9722-DRE00 - FEMA Technical Support, Pre-Declaration, January 2009 Floods - Completed FY2009 A wide plume of warm moist air streaming in from west of Hawaii caused widespread rainfall throughout western Washington in early January 2009. National Weather Service flood stages were exceeded in many different basins, most of which drain from the west side of the Cascade Range. Flows at four long-term...
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Puget Hazards

Nationally, the USGS monitors and assesses geologic and hydrologic natural hazards. In the Puget Sound Basin, common hazards that also can cause damage include earthquakes and floods. Other hazards in the region that cause less damage or happen less frequently include landslides, debris flows, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. Although much is known about these natural hazards, mitigation and...
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Puget Hazards

Nationally, the USGS monitors and assesses geologic and hydrologic natural hazards. In the Puget Sound Basin, common hazards that also can cause damage include earthquakes and floods. Other hazards in the region that cause less damage or happen less frequently include landslides, debris flows, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. Although much is known about these natural hazards, mitigation and...
Learn More