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Flood-inundation maps for the St. Joseph River at Elkhart, Indiana

February 1, 2017

Digital flood-inundation maps for a 6.6-mile reach of the St. Joseph River at Elkhart, Indiana, were created by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. The flood-inundation maps, which can be accessed through the USGS Flood Inundation Mapping Science Web site at, depict estimates of the areal extent and depth of flooding corresponding to selected water levels (stages) at the USGS streamgage 04101000, St. Joseph River at Elkhart, Ind. Real-time stages at this streamgage may be obtained on the Internet from the USGS National Water Information System at or the National Weather Service (NWS) Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service at http:/, which also forecasts flood hydrographs at this site (NWS site EKMI3).

Flood profiles were computed for the stream reach by means of a one-dimensional, step-backwater hydraulic modeling software developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The hydraulic model was calibrated using the current stage-discharge rating at the USGS streamgage 04101000, St. Joseph River at Elkhart, Ind., and the documented high-water marks from the flood of March 1982. The hydraulic model was then used to compute six water-surface profiles for flood stages at 1-foot (ft) intervals referenced to the streamgage datum ranging from 23.0 ft (the NWS “action stage”) to 28.0 ft, which is the highest stage interval of the current USGS stage-discharge rating curve and 1 ft higher than the NWS “major flood stage.” The simulated water-surface profiles were then combined with a Geographic Information System digital elevation model (derived from light detection and ranging [lidar] data having a 0.49-ft root mean squared error and 4.9-ft horizontal resolution, resampled to a 10-ft grid) to delineate the area flooded at each stage.

The availability of these maps, along with Internet information regarding current stage from the USGS streamgage and forecasted high-flow stages from the NWS, will provide emergency management personnel and residents with information that is critical for flood response activities such as evacuations and road closures, as well as for post-flood recovery efforts.

Publication Year 2017
Title Flood-inundation maps for the St. Joseph River at Elkhart, Indiana
DOI 10.3133/sir20165179
Authors Zachary W. Martin
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2016-5179
Index ID sir20165179
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Indiana-Kentucky Water Science Center