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Kansas Water Science Center

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.

1989

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 runoff.

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).

Selected References for 1989

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, 33 p.

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. 211-221.

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, p. 59-60.


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