Click here to go to our home page!
WWW  Super70s Awesome80s
FORUMS | Culture | Movies | Music | News | Sports | Sci/Tech | Timeline | TV


U.S. Floods of 1972

By C.A. Perry, B.N. Aldridge, and H.C. Ross of the USGS

The first significant floods of 1972 occurred in the Pacific Northwest. Flooding was persistent in the region as many streams were above flood stage from January until March. Flooding extended from central Washington to northern California but was most severe in western Oregon. The Nehalem and Wilson Rivers in Oregon had discharges that were maximums of record. Three counties in west-central Washington were declared Federal disaster areas as a result of the February floods.

The Buffalo Creek flash flood, one of the worst human-induced disasters in history, occurred February 26 in West Virginia. A makeshift dam on Buffalo Creek failed during excessive rains. The rushing waters from the dam failure swept away houses and cars. The flood caused 125 fatalities and $100 million in damages.

One of the earliest ice breakups in history in North and South Dakota contributed to flooding along the Little Missouri River from snowmelt and ice jams. The U.S. Geological Survey streamflow-gaging station on the Little Missouri River at Medora, North Dakota, recorded a discharge with a 25-year recurrence interval.

The most devastating local flood in South Dakota's history occurred in Rapid City, South Dakota, on June 10, 1972. An almost stationary group of thunderstorms formed over the eastern Black Hills and produced rainfall amounts of 15 in. in 6 hours northwest of Rapid City. Rapid Creek at Rapid City, had a maximum discharge of 50,000 ft³/s, which was more than seven times greater than the discharge having a 100-year recurrence interval. The flood resulted in 237 deaths and caused $160 million in damages.

During June 20 through 25, 1972, Hurricane Agnes traveled over the eastern United States with an unusually extended trajectory, and its combination with an extratropical system produced some of the worst flooding in the area's history. The storms produced torrential rains and significant flooding, particularly in Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, and Virginia. Hurricane Agnes was one of the most destructive hurricanes in history, claiming 117 lives and causing $3.1 billion in damages.

On July 21, 1972, the largest 24-hour rainfall recorded in Minnesota resulted in major flash flooding in central Minnesota. Thirteen counties were declared disaster areas.

On August 27, locally intense thunderstorms produced excessive rainfall over central Utah. The discharge of Vernon Creek at Vernon, Utah , was greater than the 100-year recurrence interval for the area.

Three flash floods in 1972 occurred in Duluth, Minnesota. The largest flash flood hit the area on September 20 and caused two deaths and $1 million in damages.

Widespread flooding occurred from October 5 to 10 in Virginia and North Carolina. The Meherrin and Nottoway Rivers in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina had discharges that were near record stages.




Aerial view of mobile homes used by families whose housing was wiped out in the Buffalo Creek flood. This is not the main valley, but a hollow off to one side.

Courtesy of USGS

Find Floods books on eBay!
Find Floods videos on eBay!

Register on eBay for free today and start buying & selling with millions each week!

FORUMS | Culture | Movies | Music | News | Sports | Sci/Tech | Timeline | TV

Copyright 1994-2017, All Rights Reserved.
Use of this site is subject to our Terms of Service.
Privacy Statement