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Hydrometeorology and hydrology of flooding in Cape Fear River basin during Hurricane Florence in 2018

December 6, 2021

Hurricanes are the major flood generating mechanism dominating the upper tail of the peak discharge distribution over the Cape Fear River Basin (CFRB). In 2018, Hurricane Florence swamped CFRB as the ninth-most-destructive hurricane ever hit the United States and set new records of peak discharges over the main river channel and three out of five of its major tributaries. In this study, we examined the hydrometeorology and hydrology of this flood via combined observation and numerical experiment analyses. Our results suggest that the slow-motion in combination to the “L-shaped” path was the most distinctive feature of the hurricane that incurred catastrophic and widespread rainfall and flooding over CFRB. The total rainfall from the storm played a controlling role in the magnitude and spatial distribution of the flood peaks at basin scale. Above that, the spatial heterogeneities of rainfall distribution and hydrologic characteristics was responsible for the distinctive flood responses within the basin. The bi-peak shape of the flood hydrograph for the Deep River was due to the combined effects of rainfall distribution, land cover, and topographic gradient. The exceptional unit peak discharge over the Black River basin was associated with its drainage network structure, topographic gradient and rainfall distribution. The floodplain downstream of the Cape Fear River temporarily stored flood water and attenuated both the riverine floods from upstream and the compound flood over the coastal area. Furthermore, numerical analyses found that re-infiltration accounted for 76% of the total infiltration on average. Re-infiltration was superior to local infiltration over CFRB during Hurricane Florence.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title Hydrometeorology and hydrology of flooding in Cape Fear River basin during Hurricane Florence in 2018
DOI 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2021.127139
Authors Dongxiao Yin, George Xue, John C. Warner, Daoyang Bao, Yongjie Huang, Wei Yu
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Hydrology
Index ID 70238745
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center