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Estimating flood magnitude and frequency on gaged and ungaged streams in Maine

October 22, 2020

Accurate estimates of flood frequency and magnitude on rivers and streams in Maine are a key component of effective flood risk management, flood mitigation, and flood recovery programs for the State. Flood-frequency estimates are published here for 148 streamgages in and adjacent to Maine. Equations are provided for users to compute flood-frequency estimates at any location on a stream that does not have a streamgage. Estimates and equations are presented for peak flows with annual exceedance probabilities (AEPs) of 50, 20, 10, 4, 2, 1, 0.5, and 0.2 percent. AEPs correspond to flood recurrence intervals of 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, and 500 years, respectively. New estimates use a regional skew coefficient of 0.02 with a standard error of prediction of 0.30 developed specifically for Maine as a part of this work.

Equations are designed for use at ungaged sites without substantial flow regulation or urbanization in Maine, with drainage areas between 0.26 and 5,680 square miles. The equations were developed from streamflows and basin characteristics at 124 unregulated streamgages using generalized least-squares regression techniques. Explanatory variables used in the equations for computing peak flows are drainage area, percentage of area in the basin that contains wetlands, and basin mean 24-hour rainfall intensities. The average standard error of prediction (ASEP) for these equations ranges from −31.5 to 45.9 percent for the 50-percent AEP and from −34.2 to 52.0 percent for the 0.2-percent AEP. Equations that use only drainage area are provided for use in cases where lower accuracy is acceptable. The ASEP for estimating peak flows with these simpler equations ranges from −40 to 66 percent for the 50-percent AEP and from −44 to 79 percent for the 0.2-percent AEP.

Final peak flows at unregulated streamgages are computed as weighted averages between the at-station peak flows and peak flows computed at those same sites using the regression equations. Peak flow estimates and equations presented here are accessible in the U.S. Geological Survey StreamStats application. StreamStats is a web application that computes selected basin characteristics and estimates of peak flows and other available streamflow statistics for user-selected streams in Maine.

Publication Year 2020
Title Estimating flood magnitude and frequency on gaged and ungaged streams in Maine
DOI 10.3133/sir20205092
Authors Pamela J. Lombard, Glenn A. Hodgkins
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2020-5092
Index ID sir20205092
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization New England Water Science Center