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Fact Sheet 2013–3108

Estimating Magnitude and Frequency of Floods Using the PeakFQ 7.0 Program

By Andrea G. Veilleux, Timothy A. Cohn, Kathleen M. Flynn, Robert R. Mason, Jr., and Paul R. Hummel

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (402 KB)Abstract

Flood-frequency analysis provides information about the magnitude and frequency of flood discharges based on records of annual maximum instantaneous peak discharges collected at streamgages. The information is essential for defining flood-hazard areas, for managing floodplains, and for designing bridges, culverts, dams, levees, and other flood-control structures.

Bulletin 17B (B17B) of the Interagency Advisory Committee on Water Data (IACWD; 1982) codifies the standard methodology for conducting flood-frequency studies in the United States. B17B specifies that annual peak-flow data are to be fit to a log-Pearson Type III distribution. Specific methods are also prescribed for improving skew estimates using regional skew information, tests for high and low outliers, adjustments for low outliers and zero flows, and procedures for incorporating historical flood information.

The authors of B17B identified various needs for methodological improvement and recommended additional study. In response to these needs, the Advisory Committee on Water Information (ACWI, successor to IACWD;, Subcommittee on Hydrology (SOH), Hydrologic Frequency Analysis Work Group (HFAWG), has recommended modest changes to B17B. These changes include adoption of a generalized method-of-moments estimator denoted the Expected Moments Algorithm (EMA) (Cohn and others, 1997) and a generalized version of the Grubbs-Beck test for low outliers (Cohn and others, 2013). The SOH requested that the USGS implement these changes in a user-friendly, publicly accessible program.

First posted May 1, 2014

For additional information, contact:
U.S. Geological Survey
Chief, Office of Surface Water
415 National Center
Reston, VA 20192

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Suggested citation:

Veilleux, A.G., Cohn, T.A., Flynn, K.M., Mason, R.R., Jr., and Hummel, P.R., 2014, Estimating magnitude and frequency of floods using the PeakFQ 7.0 program: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2013–3108, 2 p.,

ISSN 2327-6932 (online)

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