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U.S. Floods of 1989

By C.A. Perry, B.N. Aldridge, and H.C. Ross of the USGS

The first significant floods of 1989 struck the Ohio and middle Mississippi River Basins in February. 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.

Source: USGS.



Damage by Hurricane Hugo to South Carolina's Isle of Palms and Sullivan's Island underscores the need for knowledge of beach and storm processes in order to protect lives and property.

Courtesy of USGS

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