An Analysis and Comparison of Probable Maximum Floods with 10,000-year Frequency Floods and Maximum Observed Floods for Spillway Design

by Cornelius L. Cooper, Federal Energy Regulatory, Commission, Washington, DC, USA,



Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering Hydrology

Abstract: The use of deterministic probable maximum floods are supported in part by the conclusions of an Interagency Work Group formed to address the following questions: (1) Is it within the state of the art to calculate the probability of the probable maximum flood within definable confidence or error bands; and if not (2) what is the minimum exceedance probability for which a flood probability can be defined? The Work Group reviewed over 230 papers and reports, then computed the estimated peak discharges of 10,000-year frequency floods for some 3,000 sites which were compared with almost 900 observed extreme flood values and 550 Probable Maximum Flood computations. The Work Group concluded that it is not within the state of the art to calculate the probability of the probable maximum or other rare floods within definable confidence or error bands.

Subject Headings: Flood frequency | Probability | Hydraulic design | Water discharge | Computing in civil engineering | Comparative studies | Spillways

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