Problems with Indirect Determinations of Peak Streamflows in Steep, Desert Stream Channels

by Patrick A. Glancy, (M.ASCE), U.S. Geological Survey, Carson City, United States,
Rhea P. Williams, U.S. Geological Survey, Carson City, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Hydraulic Engineering


Many peak streamflow values used in flood analyses for desert areas are derived using the Manning equation. Data used in the equation are collected after the flow has subsided, and peak flow is thereby determined indirectly. Most measurement problems and associated errors in peak-flow determinations result from (1) channel erosion or deposition that cannot be discerned or properly evaluated after the fact, (2) unsteady and non-uniform flow that rapidly changes in magnitude, and (3) appreciable sediment transport that has unknown effects on energy dissipation. High calculated velocities and Froude numbers are unacceptable to some investigators. Measurement results could be improved by recording flows with a video camera, installing a recording stream gage and recording rain gages, measuring channel scour with buried chains, analyzing measured data by multiple techniques, and supplementing indirect measurements with direct measurements of stream velocities in similar ephemeral streams.

Subject Headings: Flow measurement | Stream channels | Energy measurement | Streamflow | Arid lands | Floods | Channels (waterway)

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