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BFC 21103 Hydrology

Chapter 2. Precipitation
Zarina Md Ali
Based on BFC 32002 Hydrology Module
Email: zarinaali75@gmail.com
Phone Nu: 07456 / 0197722315
Learning Objectives
At the end of the course, students should be able to:
• Define precipitation, its forms and types.
• Estimate point and areal precipitation amounts from gauge
data.

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Precipitation

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• a major component of the hydrologic cycle.
• defined as any product of the condensation of atmospheric
water vapor (solid or liquid) that is deposited on the earth’s
surface, its form and quantity thus being influenced by the
action of other climatic factors such as wind, temperature
and atmospheric pressure 3
• occur in many different forms when reaches the surface of
the earth including rain, storm, snow, hail, drizzle and sleet.
Formation of precipitation

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Classification of precipitation
Type Description
Snow Complex ice crystals. A snowflake consists of
agglomerated ice crystals. The average water content of
snow is assumed to be about 10% of an equal volume of
water.

Hail Balls of ice that are about 5 to over 125 mm in diameter.

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Their specific gravity is about 0.7 to 0.9. Thus, hailstones
have the potential for agricultural and other property
damage.

Sleet Results from the freezing of raindrops and is usually a


combination of snow and rain.

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Classification of precipitation
Type Description
Rain Consists of liquid water drops of a size 0.5 mm - 7 mm in
diameter.

Drizzle Very small, numerous and uniformly dispersed water

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drops that appear to float while following air currents.
Drizzle drops are considered to be less than 0.5
millimeter diameter. The settling velocity is slow, with
the intensity rarely exceeding 1 mm / hr. It is also known
as warm precipitation.

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Cont. Precipitation
• Precipitation is important because it helps maintain the
atmospheric balance.

• Precipitation helps farmers grow crops and provides a


fresh water supply for us to drink. Without precipitation,

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all of the land on the planet would be desert.

• Precipitation can also be damaging. Too much rain and


snow can cause severe flooding and lots of traffic
accidents. Hail can damage crops and cars. Freezing rain
and sleet can destroy trees and power lines.

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Precipitation types

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Three major categories of precipitation are:
1. Convective
2. Orographic
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3. Cyclonic/Frontal
Convective precipitation

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• typical of the tropics such as in South East Asia.
• it’s maybe in the form of light showers or storms of 9
extremely high intensity (thunderstorms).
Orographic precipitation

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• very common on the West Coast of the United States
Cylonic precipitation

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This precipitation
may be classified
as frontal or non-
frontal.

• associated with the movement of air masses from high


pressure regions to low pressure regions.
• These pressure differences are created by the unequal 11

heating of the earth’s surface.


Measurement of precipitation
• Precipitation is measured as the vertical depth that would
accumulate on a flat level surface if all the precipitation
remained where it had fallen.
• These data can be defined in terms of:
• Depth (d), is the sum of rainfall

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• Intensity (i), or depth of rainfall per unit time,
• Duration (t) is the duration of a storm is the time from
the beginning of rainfall to the point where the mass
curve becomes horizontal
• Frequency, it is usually called as return period (T)
• Area (A), is the area of rainfall geographic.
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Measurement of precipitation
• Point rainfall can be plotted as accumulated total rainfall
or as rainfall intensity at a particular gauge.

• The first plot is referred to as a cumulative mass curve,


which can be analyzed for a variety of storms to determine

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the frequency and character of rainfall at a given site.

• A hyetograph is a plot of rainfall intensity (in/hr) versus


time.

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Example 2.1
From the precipitation data given, estimate cumulative rainfall
and rainfall intensity.

Time 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
(min)

Rainfall 0 0.18 0.21 0.26 0.32 0.37 0.43 0.64 1.14 3.18

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(cm)

Time 100 110 120 130 140 150 160 170 180
(min)
Rainfall 1.65 0.81 0.52 0.42 0.36 0.28 0.24 0.19 0.17
(cm)

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Time (min) Rainfall Cumulatif rainfall Rainfall intensity • Time interval, t =
(cm) (cm) (cm/hour)
10 min = 0.167 hr
0 0 0
• Rainfall intensity =
10 0.18 0.18 1.08
0.18 cm / 0.167
20 0.21 0.39 1.26 hour = 1.08 cm/hr
30 0.26 0.65 1.56
40 0.32 0.97 1.92 • Cumulative rainfall
50 0.37 1.34 2.22 is a plot of
60 0.43 1.77 2.58 cumulative rainfall
70 0.64 2.41 3.84 versus time (min)

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80 1.14 3.55 6.84
while
90 3.18 6.73 19.08 • Rainfall intensity
100 1.65 8.38 9.90
(cm/hr) data are
110 0.81 9.19 4.86
typically reported
in either tabular
120 0.52 9.71 3.12
form or graphical
130 0.42 10.13 2.52 form (hyetograph).
140 0.36 10.49 2.16
150 0.28 10.77 1.68
160 0.24 11.01 1.44 15
170 0.19 11.2 1.14
180 0.17 11.37 1.02
Rain gauge
• Rain gauge is an instrument used to measure how much
rain has fall.
• There are several different types of rain gauges that are
grouped by how they operate:
• non recording rain gauge

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• recording rain gauge,

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Non recording rain gauge
• the standard rain gauge is a standard

8-inch-dia rain gauge (203 mm) 2.53²

• A smaller metal tube may be located


in this larger overflow can. 24²
20²

• An 8-inch-diameter receiver cap may 8²

be on top of the overflow can and is


Support (wood) Overflow can Measuring Receiver

used to funnel the rain into the tube

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smaller tube until it overflows.
Measuring stick
050 (to road directly in .01 of an inch of precipitation)

• The receiver cap has a knife edge to


040

030
Non-recording
catch rain falling precisely in the 020

One - tenth inch gauge, 8-inch-


010

surface area of an 8-inch-diameter One - hundredth inch division


dia opening
opening.
• Measurements are made using a special measuring stick with
graduations devised to account for the 8-inch receiver cap opening,
funneling water into the smaller tube. 17
• When the volume of the smaller tube is exceeded, the volume from
the smaller tube is dumped into the larger overflow can.
Recording rain gauge
• Non recording gauge which requires an observer to
manually measure the rain at regular intervals (i.e. every
24 hours).
• While, recording gauges does not require constant
observation.
• There are at least three types of gauges commonly in use

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to record depth:
• Weighing gauge
• Tipping bucket
• Float type

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Weighing gauge
• Consists of a storage bin, which is
weighed to record the mass.
• Certain models measure the mass
using a pen on a rotating drum, or by
using a vibrating wire attached to a
data logger.
• The advantages: it does not underestimate intense rain, & it

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can measure other forms of precipitation.
• These gauges are more expensive and require more
maintenance than tipping bucket gauges.
• This gauge also contains a device to measure the quantity of
chemicals contained in the locations atmosphere.
• This is extremely helpful for scientists studying the effects of
greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere and their 19
effects on the levels of the acid rain.
Tipping Bucket
• Consists of a large copper cylinder set into the
ground & a funnel (at cylinder top) that collects
and channels the precipitation.
• The precipitation falls onto one of two small
buckets or levers which are balanced in same
manner as a scale.

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• After an amount of precipitation equal to 0.2 mm
(0.007 in) falls the lever tips and an electrical
signal is sent to the recorder.
• The recorder consists of a pen mounted on an arm
attached to a geared wheel that moves once with
each signal sent from the collector.
• When the wheel turns the pen arm moves either
up or down leaving a trace on the graph and at 20
the same time making a loud click.
Tipping Bucket
• The chart is measured in 10 minute
periods (vertical lines) and 0.4 mm
(0.015 in) (horizontal lines) and rotates
once every 24 hours and is powered by a
clockwork motor that must be manually
wound.

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• This gauge is not as accurate as the
standard rain gauge because the rainfall
may stop before the lever has tipped.
• When the next period of rain begins it may take no more
than one or two drops to tip the lever.
• This would then indicate that 0.2 mm (0.007 in) has fallen
when in fact only a minute amount has.
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• The advantage: the character of the rain (light, medium or
heavy) may be easily obtained.
Float type
• In this type of instrument, the rain
passes into a float chamber containing
a light float.
• As the level of the water within the
chamber rises, the vertical movement
of the float is transmitted, by a

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suitable mechanism, to the movement
of a pen on a chart or a digital
transducer.
• By suitably adjusting the dimensions
of the collector orifice, the float, and
the float chamber, any desired chart
scale can be used.
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Location for rain gauge
• Buildings, landscaping and trees, and even the wind can
affect the amount of precipitation arriving at the rain
gauge.
• Proper placement is critical to ensure that rain sensor
readings are an accurate representation of the actual
rainfall.

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• The ideal site for a rain gage is in an open area that is
protected from the wind in all directions.
• A good guideline is to allocate the rain gauge at a minimum
distance of twice the height of building/tree away.

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Missing data
• Precipitation measuring stations sometimes fail in providing
a continuous record of precipitation.
• Instruments do malfunction and back-up systems may not
always provide accurate data.
• A tipping – bucket may not function for a short period of
time and the back-up volume gage may not provide time –

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related data.
• For a non automatic recording gage, an individual may fail
to record the data and miss a visit to the site.
• Thus, there are generally missing data, the values of which
must be estimated.
• The procedure for estimating daily totals relies on the data
from adjacent stations. The locations of the adjacent
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stations are such that they are close to and approximately
evenly spaced around the site with the missing data.
Missing Data: Point precipitation
• Precipitation events are recorded by gauges at specific
locations.
• Precipitation measured at a rain gauge is called point
rainfall.
• Methods:
• Arithmatic Mean Method

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• Normal Ratio Method
• Quadrant Method

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Arithmetic Mean Method

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Example 2.2
Rain gauge X was out of operation for a month during which there
was a storm. The rainfall amounts at 3 adjacent stations A, B, and C
were 37, 42, and 49 mm, respectively. The average annual
precipitation amounts for the gauges are X = 694, A = 726, B = 752
and C = 760 mm. Using the arithmatic method, estimate the amount
of rainfall for gauge X.

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Stations Amounts of Normal annual
precipitation (mm) precipitation (mm)
A 37 726
B 42 752
Solution: C 49 760
X ? 694

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Normal Ratio Method

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Example 2.3
The average annual precipitation amounts for the gauges A, B, C and D
are 1120, 935, 1200 and 978 mm. In year 1975, station D was out of
operation, while stations A, B and C recorded rainfall amounts of 107,
89 and 122 mm, respectively. Estimate the amount of precipitation for
station D in year 1975.
Station Normal annual Amounts of
precipitation precipitation year

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1975
A 1120 107
B 935 89
Solution: C 1200 122
D 978 X

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PX = 95.3 mm
Quadrant Method
• This is station weighting technique.
• A grid of point estimates is made based on a distance
weighting scheme.
• Each observed point value is given a unique weight for
each grid point based on the distance from the grid
point in question.

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• The grid point precipitation value is calculated based on
the sum of the individual station weight multiplied by
observed station value.
• Once the grid points have all been estimated they are
summed and the sum is divided by the number of grid
points to obtain the areal average precipitation.
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Quadrant Method y

Procedure: 4

1. Consider that rainfall is to be I


Q
R
II

calculated for point X. P


2

2. Establish a set of axes running x


4 2
X
2 4
x
T
through X and determine the U
2

absolute coordinates of the III IV

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nearest surrounding points P, Q, 4

R, S, T and U. y

3. The estimated precipitation at X is determined as a


weighted average of the other six points. The weights are
reciprocals of the sums of the squares of distance X and Y;
that is,

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Example 2.4
Stations A, B, C, D, E, F and G are the gauge stations. Rain
gauge at station A was out of operation. Precipitation
amounts for other stations were 40, 45, 37.5, 50, 47.5 and
42.5 mm. Calculate the rainfall depth at station A with
coordinates (0,0) using the quadrant method.

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Solution:
Quadrant Station Precipitation, Coordinate Li2 1 Wi WiPi
Li 2
p
X Y
(mm)
B 40.0 4 2 20 - - -
I
G 42.5 2 1 5 0.200 0.601 25.5
II F 47.5 -5 2 29 0.034 0.102 4.85
D 37.5 -3 -2 13 0.077 0.231 8.66
III
E 50.0 -3 -3 18 - - -

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IV C 45.0 1 -6 37 0.027 0.081 3.65
Total 0.333 Total 42.66

From above table precipitation at station A is 42.66 mm

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Gage Consistency
• When the catch at rain gauges is inconsistent over a
period of time and adjustment of the measured data is
necessary to provide a consistent record.
• Double Mass Curve analysis is a technique commonly
employed to detect changes in data-collection
procedures or conditions at a given location.

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• The changes may result from changes in instrumentation,
changes in observation procedures or changes in gauge
location or surrounding conditions.
• A double mass curve is a plot of the accumulation of the
observed element over time for one location (test
station) versus the accumulation over time for a
reference location (base station). 34
Gage Consistency
• The mass curve is approximately a straight line if the
variations at both test and base stations are quite
consistent.
• Any break point in the curve suggests a possible change
at the test station in relation to the base station.
• If a change in slope is evident, then the record needs to

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be adjusted, with either the early or later period of
record adjusted.

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Procedure of Double Mass Curve
1. Add the annual precipitation of base stations.
2. Cummulate the sums of Step 1.
3. Cummulate the annual precipitation for station X.
4. Plot graph accumulated annual precipitation Station X
versus accumulated precipitation of Base stations and

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compute the slope Mo and Ma.

5. Adjust the measured precipitation of gauge X using the


general equation:

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Mo

Pox
Accumulated total precipitation at Station X

Pax Ma

P

ple
Accumulated precipitation of base stations
Example 2.5
Measured annual precipitation gauge for five stations (A, B,
C, D and E) from 1926 until 1942 are given below. After 5
years, gauge A was relocated at a new location due to
changes in land use that make it impractical to maintain the
gauge at the old location. You are required to adjust the
record for the period from 1926 to 1930 using the records

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at gauges B, C, D and E.

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Solution:
Year Annual precipitation (mm) Total Cummulative
precipitation
(mm)
A B C D E B+C+D+E A B+C+D+E
1926 32.9 39.8 45.7 30.7 37.4 153.6 33 154
1927 28.1 39.6 38.5 41.0 30.9 150 61 304
1928 33.5 42.0 48.3 40.4 42.0 172.7 95 476
1929 29.6 41.4 34.6 32.5 39.9 148.4 124 625
1930 23.8 31.6 45.1 36.7 36.3 149.7 148 774

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1931 58.4 56.5 53.3 62.4 36.6 208.8 206 983
1932 46.3 48.1 40.1 47.9 38.6 174.7 253 1158
1933 30.8 39.9 29.6 32.7 26.9 129.1 283 1287
1934 46.8 45.4 41.7 36.1 32.4 155.6 330 1443
1935 38.1 44.9 48.1 30.7 41.6 165.3 368 1608
1936 40.8 32.6 39.5 35.4 31.3 138.8 411 1747
1937 37.9 45.9 44.1 39.2 44.1 173.3 449 1920
1938 50.7 46.1 38.9 43.3 50.6 178.9 499 2099
1939 46.9 49.8 41.6 49.9 41.1 182.4 546 2281
1940 50.5 47.3 49.7 47.9 39.0 183.9 597 2465 39
1941 34.4 37.1 31.9 32.2 34.5 135.7 631 2601
1942 47.6 45.9 38.2 52.4 47.3 183.8 679 2785
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Mean Areal Precipitation
• The representative precipitation over a defined area
is required in engineering application, whereas the
gaged observation pertains to the point precipitation.
• The areal precipitation is computed from the record
of a group of rain gages within the area by the
following methods:

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• Arithmatic - mean Method
• Thiessen Polygon Method
• Isohyetal Method

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Arithmatic - mean Method
The arithmetic average method uses only those gaging
stations within the topographic basin and is calculated
using:

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where;
P = average precipitation depth (mm)
 Pi = precipitation depth at gage (i) within the topographic
basin (mm)
n = total number of gaging stations within the 42
topographic basin
Example 2.6
Calculate average precipitation
Station Depth of rainfall (mm)
A 1.46
B 1.92
C 2.69

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D 4.50
E 2.98
F 5.00
Total 18.55

Average precipitation = 18.55 /6 = 3.09 mm


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Thiessen Polygon Method
• This technique is quick to apply for multiple storms
because it uses fixed sub-areas.
• It is based on the hypothesis that, for every point in the
area, the best estimate of rainfall is the measurement
physically closest to that point.
• This concept is implemented by drawing perpendicular

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bisectors to straight lines connecting each two rain-
gages.
• This procedure is not suitable for mountainous areas
because of orographic influences.

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Thiessen Polygon Method

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Thiessen Polygon Method 45
Thiessen Polygon Method
The procedure involves:
1. Connecting each precipitation station with straight lines;
2. Constructing perpendicular bisectors of the connecting
lines and forming polygons with these bisectors;
3. The area of the polygon is determined.

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Example 2.7
Using data given below, estimate the average precipitation
using Thiessen method.
Station Area (km2) Precipitation Area x precipitation
(mm) (km2.mm)
A 72 90 6480
B 34 110 3740
C 76 105 7980

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D 40 150 6000
E 76 160 12160
F 92 140 12880
G 46 130 5980
H 40 135 5400
I 86 95 8170
J 6 70 420
Total 568 1185 69210

Calculated
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Isohyetal Method
• based on interpolation between gauges and closely
resembles the calculation of contours in surveying and
mapping.
• The isohyetal method is the most accurate approach for
determining average precipitation over an area.
• Procedure:

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1. plot the rain gauge locations on a suitable map & record
the rainfall amounts.
2. interpolation between gauges is performed and rainfall
amounts at selected increments are plotted.
3. Identical depths from each interpolation & then connected
to form isohyets (lines of equal rainall depth).
4. The areal average is the weighted average of depths
between isohyets, that is, the mean value between the
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isohyets.
Isohyetal Method

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Example 2.8
Use the isohyetal method to determine the average
precipitation depth within the basin for the storm.

Isohyetal Average Area Area x


interval precipitation (km 2) Average
(mm) (mm) precipitation
(km2.mm)

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<10.0 10 0 0
10 - 20 15 84 1260
20 – 30 25 75 1875
30 - 40 35 68 2380
40 - 50 45 60 2700
50 - 60 55 55 3025
60 - 70 65 86 5590
Total 428 16830

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Summary
• Precipitation input is the main driver of the hydrologic
cycle, as it relates to river flow, water supply and urban
drainage.
• Too much or too little can mean the difference between
prosperity and disaster.
• In between these extremes are the normal precipitation

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event that are experienced with a frequency and
intensity related mainly to geographic position and
topographic features.
• At the end of this chapter you should be able to estimate
point and areal precipitation amounts from gauge data
and conceptualize simple hydrologic process models.
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THANK YOU

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