Extreme Flood Probability Estimates in Practice

by Donald W. Newton, TVA, United States,
Janet C. Herrin, TVA, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Hydraulic Engineering


Selecting the safety design flood for a dam or siting structures where flooding would cause severe social or economic disruption requires balancing the likelihood and consequences of failure or flooding. For this, the practicing hydrologist must define flood frequencies throughout the full range of potential floods up to the probable maximum flood (PMF). Although flood and storm records are too short to permit statistically robust estimates, sufficiently accurate approximations can be made in most cases which permit reasonable decisions. Procedures to develop and combine information which define flood probabilities up to and including the PMF, based upon 25 years of practical application in the Tennessee Valley region, are described. A program of applied research is suggested to provide the objective evaluation of present approaches which is needed to effectively focus future research needs.

Subject Headings: Floods | Probability | Flood frequency | Dam safety | Structural safety | Hydraulic design | Dam failures | Storms | Tennessee | United States

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