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Elevation of the March - April 2010 flood high water in selected river reaches in central and eastern Massachusetts

January 15, 2011

A series of widespread, large, low-pressure systems in southern New England in late February through late March 2010 resulted in record, or near record, rainfall and runoff. The total rainfall in the region during this period ranged from about 17 to 25 inches, which coupled with seasonal low evaporation, resulted in record or near record peak flows at 13 of 37 streamgages in central and eastern Massachusetts. The highest record peaks generally occurred in southeastern Massachusetts in late March - early April; at most other streamgages, the peak was in mid-March.
Determination of the flood-peak high-water elevation is a critical part of the recovery operations and post-flood analysis for improving future flood-hazard maps and flood-management practices. High-water marks (HWMs) were identified by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) from April 13 through May 10, 2010, and by a consultant for Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (MADCR) after peak flows in mid-March and again in late March - early April. HWMs were identified at 25 river reaches in 7 designated Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) basins by the USGS and at 8 river reaches in 2 designated EEA basins by MADCR. The USGS identified 293 HWMs at 152 sites. A site may have more than one HWM, typically upstream and downstream from a bridge. The MADCR identified 133 HWMs; of these, 98 are at unique locations, and 29 of the 133 HWMs were visited once following the mid-March peak and again following the late March peak. The HWMs identified by the USGS and MADCR covered about 300 river miles, determined from the upstream and downstream HWMs (about 230 and 70 river miles, respectively). Elevation of HWMs was later determined to a standard vertical datum (NAVD 88) using the Global Navigation Satellite System and survey grade Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers along with standard optical surveying equipment.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2011
Title Elevation of the March - April 2010 flood high water in selected river reaches in central and eastern Massachusetts
DOI 10.3133/ofr20101315
Authors Phillip J. Zarriello, Gardner C. Bent
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2010-1315
Index ID ofr20101315
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Massachusetts Water Science Center