Exploring the causes of an extreme flood event in Central New York, USA

Peng Gao, Justin J. Hartnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This study examined the causes of an extreme flood event on 28 June 2013 in Central New York, USA by comparing its hydrological, hydrometeorological, and rainfall-runoff transformation characteristics with those of a typical flood event. Flood frequency analyses showed that the maximum rainfall intensity and the peak discharge of the extreme event had recurrence intervals (RIs) of 8 and 86 years, respectively, while RIs for the typical event were 42 and 11 years, respectively. Their severity diagrams and quantification of their rainfall spatial variations illustrated that the extreme event was spatially localized with high intensities, whereas the typical event was spatially uniform and prolonged. Watershed modeling indicated that the rainfall-runoff transformation was dominated by the infiltration excess process for the extreme flood, while controlled by both infiltration and saturation excess processes for the typical event. These analyses revealed that the upgrade-magnitude conversion pattern of the extreme flood event was induced by the spatial pattern of the rainfall and the "lubricant" effect of the watershed, and emphasized the need for better understanding of such type of extreme events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-55
Number of pages18
JournalPhysical Geography
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2016


  • Extreme flood event
  • rainfall intensity
  • rainfall-runoff processes
  • severity diagram

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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