Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Emergency assessment of post-fire debris-flow hazards for the 2013 Mountain fire, southern California

October 18, 2013

Wildfire dramatically alters the hydrologic response of a watershed such that even modest rainstorms can produce dangerous flash floods and debris flows. We use empirical models to predict the probability and magnitude of debris flow occurrence in response to a 10-year rainstorm for the 2013 Mountain fire near Palm Springs, California. Overall, the models predict a relatively high probability (60–100 percent) of debris flow for six of the drainage basins in the burn area in response to a 10-year recurrence interval design storm. Volumetric predictions suggest that debris flows that occur may entrain a significant volume of material, with 8 of the 14 basins identified as having potential debris-flow volumes greater than 100,000 cubic meters. These results suggest there is a high likelihood of significant debris-flow hazard within and downstream of the burn area for nearby populations, infrastructure, and wildlife and water resources. Given these findings, we recommend that residents, emergency managers, and public works departments pay close attention to weather forecasts and National Weather Service–issued Debris Flow and Flash Flood Outlooks, Watches and Warnings and that residents adhere to any evacuation orders.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2013
Title Emergency assessment of post-fire debris-flow hazards for the 2013 Mountain fire, southern California
DOI 10.3133/ofr20131249
Authors Dennis M. Staley, Joseph E. Gartner, Greg M. Smoczyk, Ryan R. Reeves
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2013-1249
Index ID ofr20131249
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geologic Hazards Science Center

Related Content