Space-time variability of rainfall and extreme flood response in the Menomonee River basin, Wisconsin

Yu Zhang, James A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

The hydrometeorological processes that control flash flooding are examined through analyses of space-time rainfall variability and flood response in the Milwaukee metropolitan region. The analyses focus on four flood events in the Menomonee River basin that occurred 21 June 1997, 2 July 1997, 6 August 1998, and 21 July 1999. The June 1997 and August 1998 flood events produced record flood peaks in the Menomonee River and its tributaries. Rainfall analyses, which are based on WSR-88D radar reflectivity observations and rainfall measurements from a dense network of rain gauges maintained by the city of Milwaukee, provide rainfall fields for each event at 1-km spatial resolution and 5-min timescale. The June 1997 and August 1998 storms exhibited striking contrasts in storm structure, evolution, and motion. Analyses of the structure and evolution of these storms are presented in conjunction with scaling analyses of the rainfall fields. The contrasting storm-scale properties of the June 1997 and August 1998 events resulted in sharp contrasts in extreme flood response between the two events. The regional flood response of the Menomonee River basin is examined in terms of space-time rainfall variability and heterogeneous land surface properties. Analyses are based on radar rainfall fields and 15-min discharge observations from stream gauging stations, with drainage area ranging from 47 to 319 km2 for the four flood events. Extreme flood response is examined in terms of flood peak magnitudes, peak response times, and event water balance. A distributed hydrologic model, which includes a Hortonian infiltration model and a network-based representation of hillslope and channel response, plays a central role in examining the regional flood response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)506-517
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Volume4
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

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