Water-Supply Paper 2502
Summary of Significant Floods in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the
Virgin Islands, 1970 Through 1989
Summary of Significant Floods, 1970 Through 1989, by Year
This section includes brief descriptions of selected signficant interstate and intra-state
floods in yearly accounts. Floods described in this section were those with excessive loss of
life, excessive damage, extreme discharge or gage height, or those regional in extent.
References are provided for these as well as other selected significant floods that occurred
during the year. Figures 3-22 in this section
depict widespread regional flooding by giving the percentage of streamflow-gaging stations in
each State or territory recording greater than the approximate 20-year recurrence-interval
flooding during the calendar year.
The first significant floods of 1989 struck the Ohio and middle Mississippi River Basins in
February (fig. 22). Severe flooding
occurred in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio on February 12-16. Additional floods occurred in
the same area on March 4-6. The Hatchie River in Tennessee was above flood stage for 3 months
during late winter and early spring.
Severe floods struck central Indiana and southwestern Ohio late in May. A maximum of record
occurred on Seven Mile Creek at Camden, Ohio.
Numerous minor flash floods occurred at many locations in the United States throughout the
months of June and July. Nearly all of them were due to intense rains that fell during short
periods of time from thunderstorms, resulting in rapid rises on rivers and streams. Flash
flooding was intensified in urban areas because large areas of impervious surfaces increase
Tropical Storm Allison brought extensive rains to southeastern Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma
in late June and early July. Significant flooding was reported throughout Texas and
Louisiana. The storm made landfall northeast of Galveston and moved northeastward through
eastern Texas and western Louisiana. Remnants of the storm produced flood-causing rains in
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland.
Hurricane Hugo caused severe coastal and riverine flooding during September. Before striking
the southeastern United States, Hugo devastated the Virgin Islands and eastern Puerto Rico
with coastal flooding due to storm surges of as much as 11 ft and riverine flooding from more
than 10 in. of rain in a 2-day period. When the hurricane hit South Carolina, storm surges of
as much as 20 ft flooded the coastal areas. The hurricane killed 26 persons and caused $9
billion in damages (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 1990).
- Federal Emergency Management Agency, 1989a, Interagency flood hazard mitigation
report-floods of January 1, 1989, in the Virgin River of Utah: FEMA-820-DR-UT.
- ____1989b, Interagency flood hazard mitigation report-floods of January 13 to
March 8, 1989, in 65 counties of Kentucky: FEMA-821-DR-KY, 17 p.
- ____1989c, Interagency flood hazard mitigation report-floods of March 29 to April
30, 1989, in the Red River of the North Basin in Minnesota and North Dakota:
FEMA-824-DR-MN and FEMA-825-ND, 27 p.
- ____1989d, Interagency flood hazard mitigation report-floods of March 28-29, 1989,
in 9 counties of extreme northeastern Texas: FEMA-823-DR-TX, 27 p.
- ____1989e, Interagency flood hazard report-floods of May 4 to June 7, 1989, in 87
counties of Texas: FEMA-828-DR-TX.
- ____1989f, Interagency flood hazard mitigation report-floods of May 1989, in 30
counties of Louisiana: FEMA-829-DR-LA.
- ___1989g, Interagency flood hazard mitigation report-floods of May 5-13, 1989, in
4 counties of Maine: FEMA-830-DR-ME.
- ____1989h, Interagency flood hazard mitigation report-floods of May to June 1989
ice break up, in central Alaska: FEMA-832-DR-AK, 41 p.
- ____1989i, Interagency flood hazard mitigation report-floods of May 23-26, 1989,
in 13 counties of Ohio: FEMA-831-DR-OH.
- ____1989j, Interagency flood hazard mitigation report-floods of June 15 to July
16, 1989, in 12 counties of Kentucky: FEMA-834-DR-KY.
- ____1989k, Interagency flood hazard mitigation report-floods of June 14-15, 1989,
as a result of Tropical Storm Allison, in 9 counties of Texas: FEMA-836-DR-TX, 46 p.
- ____1989l, Interagency flood hazard mitigation report-floods of August 4-5, 1989,
in north-central Vermont: FEMA-840-DR-VT, 20 p.
- ____1989m, Interagency flood hazard mitigation report-floods of September 17-18,
1989, from Hurricane Hugo in the Virgin Islands: FEMA-841-DR-VI, 46 p.
- ____1989n, Interagency flood hazard mitigation report-floods of September 21-22,
1989, due to Hurricane Hugo, in 29 counties of North Carolina: FEMA-844-DR-NC.
- ____1989o, Interagency flood hazard mitigation report-floods of October 16-17,
1989, in 11 counties of Kentucky: FEMA-846-DR-KY, 22 p.
- ____1990a, Interagency flood hazard mitigation report-floods of October 15-20,
1989, in Buchanan County of Virginia: FEMA-847-DR-VA, 10 p.
- ____1990b, Interagency flood hazard mitigation report-floods of November 7-9,
1989, in 3 parishes of Louisiana: FEMA-849-DR-LA.
- ____1991, Interagency flood hazard mitigation report-floods of June 25 to July 21,
1989, as a result of Tropical Storm Allison, in 19 counties of Louisiana: FEMA-835-DR-LA,
- Graham, Frank, Jr., 1990, In Hugo's wake: American Forests, v. 96, no. 1-2,
January-February 1990, p. 17.
- Hall, M.J., Young, R.S., Thieler, E.R., Priddy, R.D., and Pilkey, O.H., Jr., 1990,
Shoreline response to Hurricane Hugo: Journal of Coastal Research, v. 6, January 1990, p.
- Hershfield, D.M., 1961, Rainfall frequency atlas of the United States: U.S.
Department of Commerce, Weather Bureau Technical Paper 40, 115 p.
- Janiskee, R.L., 1990, Storm of the century-Hurricane Hugo and its impact on South
Carolina: Southeastern Geographer, v. 30, January 1990, p. 63-67.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 1989, Climatological data (by
State): Ashville, North Carolina, National Climatic Data Center, (various months).
- ____1990, National disaster survey report-Hurricane Hugo, September 10-22, 1989:
National Weather Service, 68 p.
- Paulson, R.W., Chase, E.B., Roberts, R.S., and Moody, D.W., 1991, compilers,
National water summary, 1988-89-Hydrologic events and floods and droughts: U.S.
Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 2375, 591 p.
- Powell, M.D., and Black, P.G., 1990, Meteorological aspects of Hurricane Hugo's
landfall in the Carolinas: Shore and Beach, v. 58, no. 4, October 1990, p. 3.
- Quinones, F., and Gamble, C.R., 1990, Floods of February 1989 in Tennessee: U.S.
Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 89-4207, 15 p.
- Schuck-Kolben, R. Erik, and Kaufman, Lionel, 1991, Storm surge flooding by
Hurricane Hugo on the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and South Carolina, September
1989, in Paulson, R.W., Chase, E.B., Roberts, R.S., Moody, D.W., compilers,
National water summary, 1988-89-Hydrologic event and floods and droughts: U.S. Geological
Survey Water-Supply Paper 2375, p. 59-64.
- Talley, J.H., 1989, The storm of July 5, 1989, hydrologic conditions: Newark,
University of Delaware, Delaware Geologic Survey Open-File Report 31, 29 p.
- Whistler, H., 1990, Hurricane Hugo-September 1989: Weather, v. 45, February 1990,
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Significant Floods, by State or Territory ||