Why do the values for the 100-year flood seem to change with every flood?
The amount of water corresponding to a 100-year flood, a 500-year flood, or a 1,000-year flood is known as a "flood quantile". For instance, on a given river, the flood quantile corresponding to the 50-year flood might be 10,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) and the flood quantile corresponding to the 100-year flood might be 15,000 cfs. The estimates of the flood quantiles are calculated using actual data collected at a site.
For a particular river, the USGS collects data over time, determines the largest flood in each year, and then calculate statistical data for that river. The more years of data available, the more accurate the estimates for the various flood quantiles.
As more years of data become available, the estimates become more refined, which can result in revisions to the quantiles.
Learn About USGS Hazards Science and More About National Preparedness Month: The very nature of natural hazards means that they have the potential to impact a majority of Americans every year. USGS science provides part of the foundation for emergency preparedness whenever and wherever disaster strikes.
The number of major floods in natural rivers across Europe and North America has not increased overall during the past 80 years, a recent study has concluded. Instead researchers found that the occurrence of major flooding in North America and Europe often varies with North Atlantic Ocean temperature patterns.
Atmospheric rivers are a global weather phenomenon that can bring large amounts of rain or snow to the U.S. West Coast each year. These rivers of wet air form over the Pacific Ocean near Hawaiʻi and pick up large amounts of moisture from the tropics and on their way to the West Coast. This moisture is carried in narrow bands across the Pacific Ocean to California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada.
Some regional trends; no widespread national pattern
Devastation from the 1913 flood is shown primarily through photographs taken during the March 1913 flood. In the aftermath of the 1913 flood, State and Federal funds were allocated for the installation of a streamgage network to monitor the water level and flow of Ohio's rivers and streams. The modern streamgaging network and uses of streamflow data are described.
Flooding costs the United States more than $7 billion per year and claims more than 90 lives annually. During the Spring and Summer of 2011, the central U.S. experienced epic flooding, while Hurricane Irene followed by Tropical Storm Lee caused severe flooding in the east and northeastern U.S, setting numerous flood records at USGS streamgages. Dr. Robert Holmes discusses...
Devastating floods across much of the U.S. were severe and unrelenting during the spring and summer of 2011. When floods happen, USGS crews are among the first-responders. Often working in dangerous conditions, USGS scientists measure streamflow and river levels, repair and install streamgages, measure water quality and changes in sediment flow, and assess river changes....
USGS hydrographer Jerrod Wheeler (in cablecar) measures flood flows right before the gagehouse washes away.
06225500 Wind River near Crowheart, WY: Jul 01 2011; 13,900 ft3/s
Interview with USGS crews regarding the 2009 flooding events in Fargo, ND.