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Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5001

Prepared in cooperation with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Division of Water Resources

Low-Flow Characteristics and Flow-Duration Statistics for Selected USGS Continuous-Record Streamgaging Stations in North Carolina Through 2012

By J. Curtis Weaver

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (4.73 MB)Abstract

In 2013, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the North Carolina Division of Water Resources, compiled updated low-flow characteristics and flow-duration statistics for selected continuous-record streamgages in North Carolina. The compilation of updated streamflow statistics provides regulators and planners with relevant hydrologic information reflective of the recent droughts, which can be used to better manage the quantity and quality of streams in North Carolina.

Streamflow records available through the 2012 water year were used to determine the annual (based on climatic year) and winter 7-day, 10-year (7Q10, W7Q10) low-flow discharges, the 30-day, 2-year (30Q2) low-flow discharge, and the 7-day, 2-year (7Q2) low-flow discharge. Consequently, streamflow records available through March 31, 2012 (or the 2011 climatic year) were used to determine the updated low-flow characteristics. Low-flow characteristics were published for 177 unregulated sites, 56 regulated sites, and 33 sites known or considered to be affected by varying degrees of minor regulation and (or) diversions upstream from the streamgages (266 sites total).

The updated 7Q10 discharges were compared for 63 streamgages across North Carolina where (1) long-term streamflow record consisted of 30 or more climatic years of data available as of the 1998 climatic year, and (2) streamflows were not known to be regulated. The 7Q10 discharges did not change for 3 sites, whereas increases and decreases were noted at 5 and 55 sites, respectively. Positive changes (increases) ranged from 4.3 percent (site 362) to 34.1 percent (site 112) with a median of 13.2 percent. Negative percentage changes (decreases) ranged from –3.3 percent (site 514) to –80.0 percent (site 308) with a median of –22.2 percent. The median percentage change for all 63 streamgages was –18.4 percent.

Streamflow statistics determined as a part of this compilation included minimum, mean, maximum, and flow-duration statistics of daily mean discharges for categorical periods. Flow-duration statistics based on the daily mean discharge records were compiled in this study for the 5th, 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, 90th, and 95th percentiles. Flow-duration statistics were determined for each complete water year of record at a streamgage as well as the available period of record (or selected periods if flows were regulated) and selected seasonal, monthly, and calendar day periods. In addition to the streamflow statistics compiled for each of the water years, the number of days the daily mean discharge was at or below the 10th percentile was summed for each water year as well as the number of events during the water year when streamflow was consistently at or below the 10th percentile.

All low-flow characteristics for the streamgages were added into the StreamStatsDB, which is a database accessible to users through the recently released USGS StreamStats application for North Carolina. The minimum, mean, maximum, and flow-duration statistics of daily mean discharges based on the available (or selected if regulated flows) period of record were updated in the North Carolina StreamStatsDB. However, for the selected seasonal, monthly, calendar day, and annual water year periods, tab-delimited American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) tables of the streamflow statistics are available online to users from a link provided in the StreamStats application.

First posted March 12, 2015

Revised March 3, 2016

  • Downloads Directory
    An alternative method to accessing the streamflow statistcs not provided in the report outside of the StreamStats application is through the Downloads Directory link above.

    Tables 3 and 5 in the report provide the low-flow characteristics and flow-duration statistics, respectively, for the available (or selected if regulated flows) period of records at the streamages.

    The Downloads directory contains the minimum, mean, maximum, and flow-duration statistics of daily mean discharges based on the available (or selected if regulated flows) period of record, each complete water year of record, each calendar day, each month, and selected seasonal periods.

For additional information, contact:
Director, South Atlantic Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
3916 Sunset Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC 27607

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Suggested citation:

Weaver, J.C., 2016, Low-flow characteristics and flow-duration statistics for selected USGS continuous-record streamgaging stations in North Carolina through 2012 (ver. 1.1, March 2016): U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5001, 89 p.,

ISSN 2328-0328 (online)




Low-Flow Characteristics

Flow-Duration Statistics

Summary and Conclusions

References Cited


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