Flash flooding in arid/semiarid regions: Dissecting the hydrometeorology and hydrology of the 19 August 2014 storm and flood hydroclimatology in Arizona

Long Yang, James A. Smith, Mary Lynn Baeck, Efrat Morin, David C. Goodrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

The hydroclimatology, hydrometeorology, and hydrology of flash floods in the arid/semiarid southwestern United States are examined through empirical analyses of long-term, high-resolution rainfall and stream gauging observations, together with hydrological modeling analyses of the 19 August 2014 storm based on the Kinematic Runoffand Erosion Model (KINEROS2). The analyses presented here are centered on identifying the structure and evolution of flood-producing storms, as well as the interactions of space-time rainfall variability and basin characteristics in determining the upper-tail properties of rainfall and flood magnitudes over this region. This study focuses on four watersheds in Maricopa County, Arizona, with contrasting geomorphological properties. Flash floods over central Arizona are concentrated in both time and space, reflecting controls of the North American monsoon and complex terrain. Thunderstorm systems during the North American monsoon, as represented by the 19 August 2014 storm, are the dominant flood agents that determine the upper tail of flood frequency over central Arizona and that also shape the envelope curve of floods for watersheds smaller than 250 km2. Flood response for the 19 August 2014 storm is associated with storm elements of comparable spatial extent to the drainage area and slow movement for the three compact, headwater watersheds. Flood response for the elongated and relatively flat Skunk Creek highlights the importance of the spatial distribution of rainfall for transmission losses in arid/semiarid watersheds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3103-3123
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Volume18
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

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