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Hurricane Floyd Beats Out Fran With Record Flood Levels On North Carolina Rivers
Released: 9/21/1999

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communication
119 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
Jerad Bales, Hydrologist North Carolina District 1-click interview
Phone: 919-571-4048 | FAX: 919-571-4041




Flood levels from Hurricane Floyd exceeded those from Hurricane Fran, which occurred in September 1996. Preliminary assessments indicate that flood levels in much of the Tar River Basin were at the 500-year recurrence interval. (500-year flood flow has a 0.2-percent chance of being equalled or exceeded during any given year at a particular location.)

Following are some estimates of flood recurrence intervals and comparisons with Hurricane Fran flood levels at selected USGS stream-gaging sites in eastern North Carolina.

Selected Sites River Basin Difference, in feet, in
peak stage between
Hurricane Floyd and
Hurricane Fran
Flood-recurrence interval greater than (>) 500 years
Ahoskie Creek at Ahoskie Chowan > 9.0
Tar River at NC 97 in Rocky Mount Tar 5.8
Swift Creek at Hilliardston Tar >10.8
Little Fishing Creek near White Oak Tar > 11.6
Fishing Creek near Enfield Tar > 6.0
Tar River at Tarboro Tar > 13.4
Contentnea Creek near Lucama Neuse 4.5
Contentnea Creek at Hookerton Neuse 12.6
Trent River at Trenton Neuse > 5.5
North Cape Fear River near Chinquapin Cape Fear > 7.3
Waccamaw River at Freeland Waccamaw 2.3
Flood-recurrence interval > 100 years but less than (<) 500 years
Cashie River near Windsor Roanoke > 6.5
Tar River at Louisburg Tar - 0.7
Neuse River at Kinston Neuse > 3.0
Neuse River near Clayton Neuse 0.5
Little River near Princeton Neuse 3.2
Neuse River near Goldsboro Neuse 2.6
Black River near Tomahawk Cape Fear > 5.7

In addition to the extreme flooding in the Tar River Basin, previously unsurpassed flooding also occurred in the Cashie, Northeast Cape Fear, and Waccamaw River Basins.

Floods in many parts of the lower Neuse River Basin also exceeded those from Hurricane Fran. However, unlike Fran flooding, floods caused by Floyd in the upper Neuse and upper Cape Fear River Basins were at the 2- to 10-year recurrence intervals. Following Hurricane Fran, many of these same streams had floods exceeding the 100-year recurrence interval.

Recent flooding actually resulted from high rainfall associated with Hurricanes Dennis (Sept. 4-6) and Floyd (Sept. 14-16). For example, rainfall at Clayton was 5.0 inches during Sept. 4-6 and 7.33 inches during Sept. 14-16. At Whiteville, rainfall was 1.51 inches during Sept. 4-6 and 16.76 inches during Sept. 14-16. Rocky Mount received 7.02 inches during Sept. 4-6 and 16.18 inches during Sept. 14-16, or nearly half the annual average rainfall in just two 3-day periods.

The USGS operates more than 200 stream-gaging stations in North Carolina. More than 20 of those stations were damaged by Hurricane Floyd. USGS staff are installing temporary gages, repairing gages, and documenting high-water marks as flooding continues. More than 30 discharge measurements have been made in floodwaters since last Thursday. In addition, more than a dozen sites have been sampled for E. coli bacteria, nutrients, metals and pesticides. Sampling and discharge measurements will continue as long as the flooding continues. Real-time streamflow data can be viewed at http://nc.water.usgs.gov/.


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