Hydrologic Modeling of a Probable Maximum Precipitation Event Using HEC-HMS and GIS Models - A Case Study of Two Watersheds in Southern Virginia-

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Virginia Tech


Presented in this thesis is a case study of two study watersheds located in south central Virginia. For each, a HEC-HMS event-based hydrologic model was constructed to simulate the rainfall-runoff response from the Probable Maximum Storm (PMS), the theoretical worst-case meteorological event that is capable of occurring over a particular region. The primary goal of these simulations was to obtain discharge hydrographs associated with the Probable Maximum Flood (PMF) at key locations in each of the watersheds. These hydrographs were subsequently used to develop flood inundation maps of the study areas and to characterize sediment transport phenomena in the study reaches under severe flooding conditions.

To build the hydrologic basin models, ArcHydro, HEC-GeoHMS and ArcGIS were employed to assimilate the substantial amount of input data and to extract the pertinent modeling parameters required for the selected simulation methods. In this, the SCS Loss and Transform Methods, along with the Muskingum Routing Method, were adopted for the HEC-HMS simulations.

Once completed, the basin models were calibrated through a comparison of simulated design storm flows to frequency discharge estimates obtained with regional regression techniques and a flood frequency analysis. The models were then used to simulate their respective PMS events, which were developed following recommendations from the Hydrometeorological Branch of the National Weather Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Descriptions of each of the study sites, explanations of the modeling theory and development methodologies, and discussions of the modeling results are all detailed within.



Coles Hill, Probable Maximum Storm, HEC-GeoHMS, PMP, PMF