Techniques for Estimating the Magnitude and Frequency of Peak Flows on Small Streams in Minnesota Based on Data through Water Year 2005

Knowledge of the peak flow of floods of a given recurrence interval is essential for regulation and planning of water resources and for design of bridges, culverts, and dams along Minnesota's rivers and streams. Statistical techniques are needed to estimate peak flow at ungaged sites because long-term streamflow records are available at relatively few places. Because of the need to have up-to-date peak-flow frequency information in order to estimate peak flows at ungaged sites, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) conducted a peak-flow frequency study in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Estimates of peak-flow magnitudes for 1.5-, 2-, 5-, 10-, 25-, 50-, 100-, and 500-year recurrence intervals are presented for 330 streamflow-gaging stations in Minnesota and adjacent areas in Iowa and South Dakota based on data through water year 2005. The peak-flow frequency information was subsequently used in regression analyses to develop equations relating peak flows for selected recurrence intervals to various basin and climatic characteristics. Two statistically derived techniques—regional regression equation and region of influence regression—can be used to estimate peak flow on ungaged streams smaller than 3,000 square miles in Minnesota. Regional regression equations were developed for selected recurrence intervals in each of six regions in Minnesota: A (northwestern), B (north central and east central), C (northeastern), D (west central and south central), E (southwestern), and F (southeastern). The regression equations can be used to estimate peak flows at ungaged sites. The region of influence regression technique dynamically selects streamflow-gaging stations with characteristics similar to a site of interest. Thus, the region of influence regression technique allows use of a potentially unique set of gaging stations for estimating peak flow at each site of interest. Two methods of selecting streamflow-gaging stations, similarity and proximity, can be used for the region of influence regression technique. The regional regression equation technique is the preferred technique as an estimate of peak flow in all six regions for ungaged sites. The region of influence regression technique is not appropriate for regions C, E, and F because the interrelations of some characteristics of those regions do not agree with the interrelations throughout the rest of the State. Both the similarity and proximity methods for the region of influence technique can be used in the other regions (A, B, and D) to provide additional estimates of peak flow. The peak-flow-frequency estimates and basin characteristics for selected streamflow-gaging stations and regional peak-flow regression equations are included in this report.
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