Minnesota's Legacy

Updating Precipitation Intensities for Runoff Estimation and Infrastructure Designs

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2009 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund
Recipient Type
State Government
Start Date
July 2008
End Date
June 2011
Counties Affected
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2008, Chp. 367, Sec. 2, Subd. 05c
Appropriation Language

$100,000 is from the trust fund to the commissioner of the Pollution Control Agency for a cooperative agreement with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to partially fund a multistate effort to obtain updated climate change related rainfall frequencies to enhance engineering of storm water conveyance and treatment systems and roads. The acquired data shall be distributed free of charge. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2011, at which time the project must be completed and final products delivered, unless an earlier date is specified in the work program.

2009 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Project Overview

Overall Project Outcome and Results
Checking the daily weather forecast for where and how bad the next storms will be has become a more important part of our daily routines. Recent variable climate (dry periods, intense storms and floods) have brought heightened awareness by farmers, engineers, cities, and water managers of rainfall intensity (how fast) and duration (how long). Up to now, available summaries (done in the early 1960's) were based on relatively crude analyses of rainfall data collected through the 1950's. This project has updated precipitation intensities based on the compilation of hundreds of rainfall monitoring locations in and around Minnesota (including our neighboring Canadian and adjacent state partners) with continuous data collected through 2009 via a partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service (NOAA/NWS). State-of-the-art computer-based statistical procedures have generated summary information and maps with a resolution of 4 km by 4 km (or about 2.5 miles by 2.5 miles). NOAA required one contract with all 11 Midwest states (Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas) with pass-through funding via the Pooled Highway Fund. All Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund dollars were expended by June 30, 2011 with additional funding provided by the Minnesota DOT being used to complete the final work components. This study has generated rainfall frequency estimates for durations from 15 minutes to 60 days and for average recurrence intervals from 1 to 1,000 years along with trend analyses. Final web-based products will be available in early 2012 due to delays associated with reducing huge amounts of data from about 1/2 of the contiguous United States. The results of this work are required for standard engineering practices associated with runoff routing, flood prevention and safe road & culvert designs - and will become part of our daily forecasts ("today's storm is called a hundred year event").

Project Results Use and Dissemination
Precipitation frequency information is required for standard engineering practices for building new roads, highways, bridges, and developments so as to minimize flooding and for water quality treatment, agricultural and other watershed management purposes.

This study has resulted in rainfall frequency estimates from 15 minutes to 60 day durations and for average recurrence intervals from 1 to 1,000 years. Data has been summarized in NOAA's nationally recognized standard engineering tables. New products have been developed for inclusion in GIS formats for a wide variety of computer-based applications and website distribution for watershed management purposes. Regional patterns and comparisons to old TP-40 rainfall frequency data will also be available.

Project products will be freely available from the NOAA website www.nws.noaa.gov/ohd/hdsc, including reports, maps and spatial data with precipitation frequency estimates and downloads of digital files.

Project Details