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Precipitation Design Values for Minnesota: Are They Adequate?

Skaggs, Richard H. and Kenneth A. Blumenfeld.

Virtually every year, some location in Minnesota experiences extreme, short-duration precipitation. At times the local infrastructure is impacted causing inconvenience, property damage, and even loss of life. Whether damage to infrastructure occurs depends in part on the design specifications for and capacities of storm sewers, holding ponds, or reservoirs. The precipitation design value used in design and construction is fundamental to whether the infrastructure will fail, leading to societal costs. During the past few decades, questions have been raised about the validity of the precipitation design values typically used in Minnesota. Using data from the Minnesota High Spatial Density Precipitation Network, the authors report results of a study of extreme precipitation amounts and frequencies in Minnesota. They conclude that the currently used precipitation design values underestimate extreme precipitation events, and make the case that engineers, concerned with a fixed-point construction project, and managers, concerned with several projects over a larger area, are likely to have quite different perspectives on the adequacy of the current precipitation design values.

CURA Reporter
Publication date: 
Minneapolis: Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, University of Minnesota.
Supported in part through a New Initiative grant from the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA), University of Minnesota. Additional funding provided by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
36 (4): 24-29
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CURA call number: 
Reporter 36 (4)

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