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History of Rainfall Studies Applicable to Texas


History of Rainfall Studies Applicable to Texas

November 12, 2020
Melinda Luna PE, ASCE Texas History & Heritage Committee Chair

In the United States, there have been several rainfall intensities studies. The first study was Rainfall and Runoff in the Miami Valley by Ivan E Houck published in 1921 but the work was done after the 1913 flood. This was also part of a larger publication, the Technical Reports:  The Miami Valley and the 1913 Flood by A.E. Morgan published in 1917. Since then there have been a series of studies to attempt to create one map that seamlessly covers the United States. The most recent effort has been with Atlas 14 published starting in 2004 releasing sections of the United States. Most recently, the release of the State of Texas in late September of 2018. Since then, different parts of the United States have been released in separate volumes, with five states left to complete the United States “map”. 

Publish DateTitle & AuthorSource
< 1900sEngineers used what they knew and used history of rainfall in the area.None
The Miami Valley and the 1913 Flood
by A.E. Morgan
Rainfall & Runoff in the Miami Valley
1935Rainfall Intensity-Frequency Data Miscellaneous Publication 2014
by David L. Yarnell
USDA Misc Pub
1953Rainfall Intensity for Local Drainage Design
by US Weather Bureau
Technical Paper 24
1955Rainfall Intensity-Duration-Frequency Curves
by US Weather Bureau
Technical Paper 25
1961Rainfall Frequency Atlas of the United States
by David M Hershfield
Technical Paper 40
1977Depth-Area Ratios in the Semi-Arid Southwest United States
by Raymond M. Zehr & Vance A. Myers, Office of Hydrology Series
Technical Memorandum Hydro-35
1998Depth-Duration Frequency of Precipitation for Texas
by William H. Asquith, US Geology Survey
WRIR 98-4004
2004Atlas of Depth Duration Frequency of Precipitation Annual Maxima for Texas
by William H. Asquith & Meghan C. Roussel, US Geological Survey
SIR 2004-5041
2018Atlas 14
by Precipitation Frequency Data Server (PFDS)
Hydrometeorological Design Studies Center

The first states to implement a new rainfall Atlas 14 included Southwest Arizona, Southeast California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. This was followed by Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. In the 15 years since original release, most have had at least one report update, as implementation of new rainfall is no longer difficult. Most have adopted the new rainfall as this over comes some of the short falls of the earlier studies.

As more data is gathered, designers should be aware that the rainfall intensities will change.

Photos Source: NOAA; News & Features; https://www.noaa.gov/media-release/noaa-updates-texas-rainfall-frequency-values; accessed 12 November 2020