USGS - science for a changing world

South Atlantic Water Science Center - Georgia

 South Atlantic WSC  Georgia office  Information/data  Projects  Publications  RiverCam  Drought  Flood  About  Contact
Picture of flooding on Northside Drive at Peachtree Creek, Atlanta.



Peachtree Creek home page. Peachtree Creek home


USGS Water Science Centers are located in each state.

There is a USGS Water Science Center office in each State. Washington Oregon California Idaho Nevada Montana Wyoming Utah Colorado Arizona New Mexico North Dakota South Dakota Nebraska Kansas Oklahoma Texas Minnesota Iowa Missouri Arkansas Louisiana Wisconsin Illinois Mississippi Michigan Indiana Ohio Kentucky Tennessee Alabama Pennsylvania West Virginia Georgia Florida Caribbean Alaska Hawaii New York Vermont New Hampshire Maine Massachusetts South Carolina North Carolina Rhode Island Virginia Connecticut New Jersey Maryland-Delaware-D.C.

Monthly and yearly streamflow patterns
Peachtree Creek WaterWatch

Streamflow at Peachtree Creek varies by month

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has been measuring daily mean (average) streamflow at Peachtree Creek since July 1958. With such a long period of record, it is possible to see a pattern of streamflow variation by month and season. The chart below shows the mean of monthly streamflow for each month. So, the January value of 174 cubic feet per second (ft3/s) was computed by averaging the 44 mean January streamflows (1959 to 2002). Atlantans would not be surprised that highest mean streamflows occurred in March. The chart also shows that while summer is indeed normally dry in Atlanta (except for 2003!), October has been the month when the lowest mean streamflows have been recorded.

Bar chart showing the mean (average) of monthly streamflow for each month. Data are computed by averaging the average monthly streamflows for the years 1958 to 2002.

View a table of peak flows at Peachtree Creek. Opens a new window. Table of mean monthly streamflow statistics at Peachtree Creek (new window).

Seasonal streamflow patterns

Pie chart showing the average streamflow for each month, as a percentage of average yearly streamflow.

To view the seasonal pattern of streamflow at Peachtree Creek is to look at a pie chart showing the percentage of yearly streamflow occuring in each month. Naturally, the streamflow patterns closely follow rainfall patterns. In Georgia, winter frontal storms result in moderate rainfall over multiple days; spring storms result in heavy rainfall; summer produces brief thunderstorms; and autumn is generally dry. This chart shows that 35.9 percent of the yearly streamflow occurred in the months of January to March, whereas only 17.2 percent of the yearly streamflow occurred during the typically drier months of August to October.

Yearly patterns: Dry years versus wet years

Streamflow at Peachtree Creek can vary greatly both in the short term and long term. The chart below compares the monthly mean streamflow (the average of all daily streamflows for each month) for 1999, a year of severe drought, with streamflow during 1975, which is considered a wet year.

Streamflows vary by month

The streamflow for 1975 show a more typical pattern of streamflow in Georgia, with relatively high streamflow occuring during the spring and lower streamflow during the autumn. The typical springtime streamflow pattern did not occur during 1999, with mean streamflow for March being only 80 cubic feet per second (ft3/s) as compared to 487 ft3/s during 1975. This makes the March 1975 streamflow about six times greater than streamflow in March of 1999.

Bar chart showing monthly mean streamflows during a dry year (1999) versus a wet year (1975).

Streamflow varies by year

The table below shows the annual mean streamflow for the years 1959-2001. Annual mean streamflow is the average of all daily streamflows for the year. The long-term annual mean streamflow for the period of record is about 136 ft3/s. Variability in annual mean streamflow is shown by contrasting the wet year of 1975, when annual mean streamflow was 203 ft3/s to the dry year of 1999, when mean streamflow was 81 ft3/s for the dry year of 1999. Thus, streamflow during 1975 was about 55 percent above the long-term average, and streamflow during 1999 was only about 60 percent of the long-term annual average.

Annual mean streamflow at Peachtree Creek at Atlanta, 1959-2009

YearAnnual mean
in ft3/s
YearAnnual mean
in ft3/s
YearAnnual mean
in ft3/s
YearAnnual mean
in ft3/s

USGS Home Water Climate Change Core Science Ecosystems Energy and Minerals Env. Health Hazards

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information:
Page Last Modified: Friday, 03-Oct-2014 07:24:01 EDT