Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Hydrologic Sciences



Major Advisor

James P. McNamara, Ph.D.


Alejandro N. Flores, Ph.D.


Hans-Peter Marshall, Ph.D.


Predictions of peak streamflow timing in snow-dominated river systems are essential for proper water management and recreational availability. This study evaluates historic snow and streamflow data from 14 river basins throughout Idaho to investigate the relationship between snowmelt timing at SNOw TELemetry (SNOTEL) sites and peak streamflow within each basin. The goal is to provide a simple operational tool that estimates the probability of peak streamflow occurring within a certain number of days as ablation progresses from 0 to 100% melted. For individual basins we evaluate meltout levels in increments of 10% from each SNOTEL site and use a probabilistic modeling approach to create cumulative distribution function (CDF) curves which illustrate the probability of peak streamflow occurring within a given number of days from the date at which the SNOTEL site reaches each meltout percentage. Results from the CDF probability model graphs also provide basic information about basin specific anecdotal indices or “rules of thumb” for when peak streamflow will occur based on the average percent meltout at the time of peak streamflow. Compiled historical datasets with summary statistics for 54 SNOTEL-streamgage pairs of multiple snowmelt and streamflow metrics add to the body of knowledge of hydrologic processes for basins throughout Idaho. In addition, our analysis reveals how melt timing has a greater influence on the timing of peak streamflow than does the timing or magnitude of maximum accumulation (max SWE) and how the larger snowpack (magnitude of max SWE) often have few lag days between each meltout percentage and peak streamflow.



Included in

Hydrology Commons