Peak Runoff in Streams and Rivers

Around these parts, in the Central Valley, low foothills and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, peak runoff in streams and rivers is generally around the first week of spring. This year, it was the last week of March, about March 22-28. This is because most of the runoff from streams and rivers in this area is from rainfall. We have little snow in the Valley and foothills, and for some reason, snow runoff from the Sierras is generally not enough to cause flooding in the foothills and valleys below.

What is the peak runoff for rivers and streams in your region of wherever? Chime in.

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2 thoughts on “Peak Runoff in Streams and Rivers”

  1. I live in the Connecticut River Valley, in Massachusetts. The freshet (spring flooding) comes from both snow melt and spring rain–here it can peak in March or April. This year the river peaked mid-April. Each year there are usually roads that need to be closed in low-lying areas near the river. Some farmland, a few backyards, etc. are flooded. The flooding wasn’t bad this year, despite above-average snowfall this past winter. (I think we had three months or so in which the ground was always covered–the snow would start falling again before the last snow had gone. Actually, it’s the snow further north, from Vermont and Canada, that affects the river here.)

  2. The same is true here in the Central Highlands of Ohio, except the peak flows per drainage area are smaller. We’ve had a very wet spring, and our fields had standing water in them after every small rainfall (0.5 in or so).

    As a useful rule of thumb, streams (at least east of the Mississippi) flow bank-full about once every 18 months, so flooding (over the banks) is that frequent.

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