Extraordinary flood response of a small urban watershed to short-duration convective rainfall

James A. Smith, Andrew J. Miller, Mary Lynn Baeck, Peter A. Nelson, Gary T. Fisher, Katherine L. Meierdiercks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


The 9.1 km2 Moores Run watershed in Baltimore, Maryland, experiences floods with unit discharge peaks exceeding 1 m3 s-1 km-2 12 times yr-1, on average. Few, if any, drainage basins in the continental United States have a higher frequency. A thunderstorm system on 13 June 2003 produced the record flood peak (13.2 m3 s-1 km-2) during the 6-yr stream gauging record of Moores Run. In this paper, the hydrometeorology, hydrology, and hydraulics of extreme floods in Moores Run are examined through analyses of the 13 June 2003 storm and flood, as well as other major storm and flood events during the 2000-03 time period. The 13 June 2003 flood, like most floods in Moores Run, was produced by an organized system of thunderstorms. Analyses of the 13 June 2003 storm, which are based on volume scan reflectivity observations from the Sterling, Virginia, WSR-88D radar, are used to characterize the spatial and temporal variability of flash flood producing rainfall. Hydrology of flood response in Moores Run is characterized by highly efficient concentration of runoff through the storm drain network and relatively low runoff ratios. A detailed survey of high-water marks for the 13 June 2003 flood is used, in combination with analyses based on a 2D, depth-averaged open channel flow model (TELEMAC 2D) to examine hydraulics of the 13 June 2003 flood. Hydraulic analyses are used to examine peak discharge estimates for the 13 June flood peak, propagation of flood waves in the Moores Run channel, and 2D flow features associated with channel and floodplain geometry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)599-617
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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