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Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5077

Prepared in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency

Flood Maps for the Winooski River in Waterbury, Vermont, 2014

By Scott A. Olson

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (5.48 MB)Abstract

From August 28 to 29, 2011, Tropical Storm Irene delivered rainfall ranging from approximately 4 to more than 7 inches in the Winooski River Basin in Vermont. The rainfall resulted in severe flooding throughout the basin and significant damage along the Winooski River. In response to the flooding, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, conducted a new flood study to aid in flood recovery and restoration and to assist in flood forecasting. The study resulted in two sets of flood maps that depict the flooding for an 8.3-mile reach of the Winooski River from about 1,000 feet downstream of the Waterbury-Bolton, Vermont, town line upstream to about 2,000 feet upstream of the Waterbury-Middlesex, Vt., town line.

The first set of maps consists of flood-recovery maps depicting the boundaries of floodwaters at the 10-, 4-, 2-, 1-, and 0.2-percent annual exceedance probability (AEP) discharges, the boundaries of the floodway, and the boundaries of floodwaters from Tropical Storm Irene as estimated by a hydraulic model. The second set of maps consists of flood-inundation maps depicting the areal extent and depth of flooding corresponding to selected water levels (stages) at the USGS Winooski River above Crossett Bk at Waterbury, VT (04288040) streamgage. The maps correspond to streamgage water levels ranging from 417.0 to 431.0 feet in 2-foot increments. The availability of these flood-inundation maps along with current stage from the USGS streamgage obtained from a USGS Web site will provide emergency management personnel and residents with information that is critical for flood response activities such as evacuations and road closures, as well as for post-flood recovery efforts. These flood inundation maps can be accessed through the USGS Flood Inundation Mapping Science Web site (

To generate the maps, flood profiles for the Winooski River were developed. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers one-dimensional step-backwater Hydrologic Engineering Center River Analysis System model (HEC–RAS), was used to compute the water-surface profiles along the study reach. The simulated water-surface profiles were then combined with a geographic information system digital elevation model derived from light detection and ranging (lidar) data with a vertical accuracy that meets or exceeds vertical national map accuracy standards for 2-foot contour mapping to delineate the area flooded for each water-surface profile.

High-water marks from Tropical Storm Irene were available for seven locations along the study reach. The highwater marks were used to estimate water-surface profiles and discharges resulting from Tropical Storm Irene throughout the study reach. From a comparison of the estimated water-surface profile for Tropical Storm Irene with the water-surface profiles for the 1- and 0.2-percent annual exceedance probability (AEP) floods, it was determined that the high-water elevations resulting from Tropical Storm Irene exceeded the estimated 1-percent AEP flood throughout the Winooski River study reach but did not exceed the estimated 0.2-percent AEP flood at any location within the study reach.

First posted June 30, 2015

For additional information, contact:
Director, New England Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
331 Commerce Way, Suite 2
Pembroke, NH 03275

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Suggested citation:

Olson, S.A., 2015, Flood maps for the Winooski River in Waterbury, Vermont, 2014: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5077, 25 p.,

ISSN 2328-0328 (online)




Creation of Flood Maps

Availability of Flood-Recovery and Flood-Inundation Maps


Selected References

Appendix 1. Flood-Recovery Map for the Winooski River in Waterbury, Vermont

Appendix 2. Water-Surface Elevations for Flooding at Selected Annual Exceedance Probabilities and Estimated Tropical Storm Irene Flooding on the Winooski River in Waterbury, Vermont

Appendix 3. Floodway Data for the Winooski River in Waterbury, Vermont

Appendix 4. Water-Surface Elevations of the Winooski River in Waterbury, Vermont, for Selected Stages at the Winooski River Above Crossett Bk at Waterbury, VT (04288040) Streamgage

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