Regional Regression Equations Based on Channel-Width Characteristics to Estimate Peak-Flow Frequencies at Ungaged Sites in Montana Using Data through Water Year 2011

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The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) uses peak-flow frequency data (i.e. 100-year flood) to design highway infrastructure, secure floodplain permits, and perform stream restoration activities. The USGS, in cooperation with MDT, proposes to develop regression equations which use channel-width as a predictor to provide peak-flow frequency estimates to MDT.

Peak-flow data has been collected by the USGS in cooperation with MDT since 1955 and are used by many federal, state, and local agencies to increase the understanding of how extreme weather events and climate change can affect flood events in Montana. The proposed research will develop channel-width based regression equations that could increase accuracy and reduce uncertainty when determining flood magnitudes and frequencies.  

Channel-width measurements, which are necessary for using the proposed regression equations, are commonly obtained through on-site surveys. This research proposes to develop and evaluate the use of aerial photography and other remote measurement methods to quickly estimate channel widths to reduce the need for on-site surveys.