Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Bankfull Flood on the Haw River, North Carolina

There is abundant evidence of a bankfull flood event on the Haw River, upstream of Bynum, North Carolina.

Let's see what the USGS Gauge at Bynum says.

 A gauge height over 11 feet counts as a flood...and it is more than 7 feet above current flow.  Note that this is a very wide river, so the actual volume was much more than 7 times...according to the USGS calculation, the flow was near 20,000 CFS, over 30 times the current flow of 600 CFS.

How does the compare to previous floods?
This January flood appears to be a bankfull event that was surpassed in 2008 (the first year of record for Bynum), 2009, and 2010, (but not in 2011 or 2012).  Many of these large floods happen in the early spring, perhaps when the heavy rains fall on an already-saturated watershed.

This is what happened the week of January 13th.  On top of the previous week's rain, there was significant rain on Monday the 14th and Wednesday the 16th.  The storm continued into Thursday, bringing more than an inch of thunderstorm rain (and snow) on top of the saturated landscape.  The Haw river flow peaked soon thereafter, in the early morning hours of January 18th.

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