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**DEVELOPMENT AND UTILITY OF HUFF CURVES FOR DISAGGREGATING PRECIPITATION AMOUNTS
**

J. V. Bonta

ABSTRACT. Watershed models are becoming more sophisticated and require temporal inputs of precipitation to drive the modeled hydrologic processes. Short time increments of the order of minutes are particularly needed, but these are seldom available or do not have good spatial coverage. The most widely available precipitation data in the United States are total amounts for 24−h periods. Information on the actual intensity distribution within a period of precipitation is lacking and practitioners resort to approximate methods to distribute the precipitation in time (“disaggregation”). The most common approach to disaggregate total precipitation amounts has been to use “design storms,” fixed patterns of the time distribution of precipitation intensities within a period. “Huff curves” provide a method of characterizing storm mass curves. They are a probabilistic representation of accumulated storm depths for corresponding accumulated storm durations expressed in dimensionless form. The development of Huff curves is described in the present study using precipitation data from Coshocton, Ohio because the procedure has never been documented in the literature. The potential use of these curves, the state of knowledge, and research needs for advancing the utility of Huff curves for storm disaggregation are summarized. Three approaches for using Huff curves to disaggregate precipitation totals are described: design storms (fixed patterns of intensities), stochastic simulation of within−storm intensities, and a hybrid of these two approaches. Expanded use of Huff curves as described in the latter two approaches offer opportunities for maximizing the information contained in Huff curves. There is no meaningful correspondence between NRCS design storms (Types I, IA, II, and III) and Huff curves. A computer program is available to facilitate the development of Huff curves for stimulating research into their practical use. Keywords. Huff curves, Storm simulation, Storm synthesis, Stochastic simulation, Design storm, Disaggregation, precipitation.

atershed models are required for many purposes such as engineering design for runoff and erosion control in agricultural and urban areas, water−quality evaluations, global− change investigations, etc. Precipitation inputs to models are often in the form of either measured precipitation or “design storms” (fixed patterns of the time distribution of precipitation intensities, often referred to as “storm profiles”). Design storms are often used for engineering design for storm−water control (e.g., urban areas) because time distributions of precipitation for time intervals less than a day are needed but are often not available. Design storms “disaggregate” total precipitation to synthesize within−storm intensities. They are assumed to be representative of the general trend of the variation of precipitation intensities, but they are inadequate for this purpose because an “expected” time distribution never occurs. This is because observed precipitation within a storm has both random and deterministic components, resulting in an infinite number of possible time distributions of intensities within a storm. The most widely used precipitation inputs to watershed models are total amounts for 24−h periods. This is because of

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Article was submitted for review in December 2003; approved for publication by the Soil & Water Division of ASAE in April 2004. The author is James V. Bonta, ASAE Member Engineer, Research Hydraulic Engineer, USDA−Agricultural Research Service, North Appalachian Experimental Watershed, Coshocton, Ohio 43812; phone: 740−545−6349 fax: 740−545−5125 e−mail: bonta@coshocton.ars.usda.gov.

the large geographic coverage and long records of these data. However, information on the actual intensity distribution within the 24−h period is lacking and practitioners resort to design storms to distribute subdaily precipitation. Hourly precipitation data are available to a lesser aerial extent over the United States, which can be directly used for inputs to models. Additionally, these data are useful for developing methods for distributing intensities. Fifteen−minute precipitation is available, but to even a lesser aerial extent than hourly data. Another source of available precipitation data is intensity−duration−frequency (IDF) precipitation data. However, these uniform intensities are developed only from maximum intensities within storms, and thus represent incomplete storms. Incomplete storms do not include intensities prior to the maximum precipitation burst that satisfies a soil−water deficit incorporated into many watershed models. Another source of precipitation “data” to watershed models is from weather−generation models (e.g., CLIGEN, Nicks et al., 1995; GEM, Hanson et al., 1989, 1994, and 2002). These models can simulate temporally distributed estimates of precipitation amounts and other weather elements by using known statistical characteristics of weather (”stochastic simulation”). However, the smallest time−step that is currently generated is often only 24 h because of the widespread availability of these data used to parameterize these models. Consequently, precipitation intensities must be artificially distributed in time given only the 24−h total amounts. CLIGEN includes an undocumented breakpoint precipitation simulator (Zeleke et al., 2000). The AnnAGNPS watershed model (Bingner and Theurer, 2001) uses

Applied Engineering in Agriculture Vol. 20(5): 641−653 2004 American Society of Agricultural Engineers ISSN 0883−8542 641

personal communication). there are 36 curves from which to choose that were developed Figure 1. Huff curves for the NAEW at Coshocton.. a 90% probability curve may be interpreted as the limiting storm intensities that occur in less than 90% of the storms (e. Ohio. 2003. Problems with the design−storm concept and suggestions for improving rainfall inputs to urban watershed models are discussed in Patry and McPherson (1979).g. and III) are superimposed.. Huff (1967) separated storm data by the quartile (categories of 25% of storm duration) in which the maximum intensity occurred.7 mm). IA. II. developed from breakpoint precipitation data (storms >12. For example. 1992). Kiefer and Chu (1957). but this assumption is unproven. and there is no guidance on how to maximize the information contained in them and thus how to use them. Sifalda (1973). but may be for urban areas where antecedent soil−water deficit is not a major factor. and III. (2003). IA. In this method. in the original presentation of Huff curves. Pilgrim and Cordery (1975). few Huff curve sets have been developed for different regions of the world.” fig. Desbordes and Raous (1976). Other patterns have been developed and many are used today such as. NRCS design storms (Types I. II. Yen and Chow (1980). Natural Environment Research Council (NERC. An assumption often made for estimating the magnitude of peak runoff rates is that the frequencies of occurrence of the peak flow and causal precipitation are the same.the various Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) “Type” profiles to distribute 24−h totals over spatially distributed landscape cells (Theurer... 1). One particular type of expression of the random and highly variable character of storm mass curves of precipitation is Huff’s (1967) probabilistic representation method (“Huff curves. (1969). fig. 1). 642 APPLIED ENGINEERING IN AGRICULTURE . fig. 1975). Huff (1967. 1994). 1986). Pilgrim and Cordery (1975) suggest that this is true if median or average values of parameters are used. SCS. They are seldom fully used because there is a lack of understanding in the literature of what they represent and how to construct them. and d) fourth quartile. Guidance is lacking because. Asquith et al.e. Pilgrim et al. F.g. Sutherland (1982). b) second quartile. 1990). The greatest precipitation intensity occurs in the: a) first quartile. Huff curves are isopleths of the probabilities of dimensionless storm mass curves for given elapsed times (described more fully later). Perhaps the most common design storms used in practice are the various distributions of the NRCS (i. Algorithms for stochastic storm simulation of short−time increment precipitation data are largely underdeveloped. they are difficult to construct without a computer program. Huff and Angel (1989. This assumption is not necessarily the case in small agricultural watersheds (Bonta and Rao. c) third quartile. It is also assumed that the season of largest precipitation intensities cause the largest peak flow rates. 1). Types I. forming four separate quartile graphs (e.

In figure 2. This method is used subsequently in this article.7 mm and/or when one or more gages recorded more than 25. but bursts of rainfall (Bi) separated by dry−period durations of the order of days would not belong to the same storm. bursts B2 and B3 are separated by D2. Ohio. 24−h. in which storm occurrences are statistically independent.000 km2. are developed strictly from east−central Illinois and are not based on data collected over an extensive area.4 mm. and accounts for storm characteristics occurring in different seasons. Data from RG119 are also used for regional comparisons. and a hybrid of these two approaches. Also. D3< D1< MDPD < D2. and a hybrid approach. The minimum Dithat separates bursts of rainfall is referred to as the “minimum dry−period duration” (MDPD).5 to 26. 3) summarize information on the effects of factors affecting the curves. Storm durations used ranged from 1 to 48 hours. 1967). and is also briefly described. dry−period durations of the order of minutes would belong to the same storm. The study by Huff (1990) updated the previous study by including an additional 12 gages in a 25.5 km from each other on the 425−ha NAEW facility. Intuitively. and 6 more gages in the Chicago area (Huff and Vogel. Data from RG109 and RG115 are also used for some purposes. continuous bursts of rainfall are separated by periods of no precipitation (fig. A computer program is available to readers for developing Huff curves to facilitate more widespread use. An exponential distribution between storms characterizes a Poisson process. storms must be identified and separated within a record of precipitation. Illinois area. Huff (1967) used a constant. These three gages are located about 1. and locations. arbitrary MDPD value of six hours in his original paper across all seasons. and their use has been limited for the reasons mentioned earlier. In that study. Some features of Huff’s original development are modified as explained in the steps that follow.9 h over the plains area of Colorado and adjoining states covering 225. The latest work on Huff curves in Illinois is by Huff and Angel (1992) in which they used the curves from Huff (1990). Three approaches to temporally disaggregate storm. and other precipitation totals using Huff curves have been investigated in recent years and are the subject of the present article: design storms. climates. median monthly MDPD ranged from 16. and criteria for selecting a curve for use in any region of the United States are lacking. precipitation analyses are better represented by seasonal (monthly) MDPDs leading to seasonal (monthly) Huff curves. Average annual precipitation is about 948 mm for the NAEW at Coshocton. Their Huff−curve−related results Figure 2. The objectives of this article are to: 1) present the conceptual and mathematical development of Huff curves. 1976) to include 417 more storms. This method assumes that the MDPD is found when Di greater than MDPD form an exponential distribution. Vol. However. Detail on construction of Huff curves is not documented in the literature. Data from these gages are tabulated at changes in precipitation intensity (“breakpoint” data) for the period of record from 1937 through 1994. This article is intended to summarize what is known about Huff curves and to stimulate thinking on how to extract the maximum amount of information contained in Huff curves for practical use in precipitation and watershed modeling. and identifies storms in a precipitation record. STORM IDENTIFICATION Prior to constructing Huff curves. PROCEDURE datos usados para el presente estudio DATA USED FOR THE PRESENT STUDY Data from rain gage RG100 on the USDA – Agricultural Research Service facility at the North Appalachian Experimental Watershed (NAEW) located near Coshocton. and two storms are apparent. stochastic generation of storm intensities. In a precipitation record. DATA USED BY HUFF In his original work. 1988a). A few methods are available to determine MDPD (Bonta and Rao. areas for further study can be identified based on present knowledge and use of Huff curves. 2) describe applications and approaches for use of Huff curves for design storms. He used storm data greater than a rain−gage network mean of 12. The gaged area was topographically a flat prairie with elevations ranging from 198 to 277 m.using Illinois precipitation data (Huff. D1. 2) or “dry−period durations” (Di). These storms are used as the underlying database for development of Huff curves. stochastic simulation. Huff (1967) used 12 years of data from 49 gages over an area of 1037 km2in eastern Illinois. 20(5): 641−653 643 . However. at the extremes for a given location. Schematic of approach used to identify and separate storms. and 4) discuss research needs.9−km2 Champaign−Urbana. figure 2 shows that rainfall bursts B1 and B2 are separated by dry−period duration. are used to describe the procedure for developing Huff curves and for evaluating some features of Huff curves. Bonta (2001) showed that MDPD can be seasonally dependent on the time of year. Ohio. For example. the most useful method was reported by Restrepo and Eagleson (1982) where they calculated the MDPD by using the “exponential” method. OBJECTIVES Information contained in Huff curves is seldom fully utilized but these curves offer opportunities for practical use for disaggregating precipitation totals. Consequently. and B3 and B4 are separated by D3.

Figure 3 shows all 181 storm mass curves occurring in the months of May and June at Coshocton. Area−averaged curves are discussed in the next section. The second step is adding the probability dimension (frequency distribution of dimensionless depths) to the graph. 4). 644 APPLIED ENGINEERING IN AGRICULTURE .02 along the dimensionless−duration axis. The resulting graphs are subsequently superimposed (fig.. First. Interpolated mass−curve intersections are computed for every vertical selected by an analyst. with storm totals greater than 12. for a given vertical line representing a single dimensionless duration (e. In figure 5. Ohio.2 in fig. 4). the intersection of each dimensionless mass curve with this vertical is interpolated because breakpoints of individual mass curves in figure 4 do not lie directly on the selected verticals shown in figure 5 (“interpolated mass− curve intersection”).DEVELOPMENT OF HUFF CURVES FROM MEASURED DATA CURVES FROM COSHOCTON POINT RAIN−GAGE DATA There are two types of Huff curves: point−developed and area−averaged.7 mm) during May and June for RG100 at the NAEW near Coshocton. the interpolated mass−curve intersections (dimensionless depths) are found at verticals for increments of 0. The equation used for computing these percentages is: P = 100i / (n + 1) (1) where P = cumulative percentage of dimensionless−depth points i = point number n = total number of points For example. dimensionless duration−axis value of 0. Ohio. figure 6 shows that 90% of all mass−curve intersections (dimensionless depths) for a dimensionless Figure 4. Each mass curve in figure 3 is nondimensionalized by dividing all breakpoint mass−curve depths by the total storm depth. Order is subsequently made of the apparent disorder in figure 4 following a two−step process by adding a third dimension (probability) to the dimensionless mass curves. and all elapsed times by the total storm duration.g. Dimensionless storm mass curves for the same storm mass curves as in figure 3. forming a storm mass−curve database. Storm mass curves for storms identified (storm totals >12. mass−curve intersections at or below assigned percentages for each vertical. This step involves determining the percentage of Figure 3. Storms are extracted from the precipitation record using monthly values of MDPD.7 mm. This section assumes curves are developed from data from an individual rain gage (“point”). but the procedure is identical to point−developed curves after an intermediate step.

e. a 90% curve (isopleth) implies that for all storm durations. 90% of the accumulated precipitation has occurred for all dimensionless storm durations (i..Figure 5. This notation is the complement of the percentage of intersections exceeding a given value in the original publication by Huff (1967.. Interpolated dimensionless depths corresponding to identical assigned probabilities are connected by straight lines (e. These probability isopleths comprise a set of “Huff curves” −− they are a probabilistic summary representation of storm mass curves in terms of dimensionless elapsed times into a storm and corresponding dimensionless accumulated depths. Figure 6.. Storm mass−curve intersections with vertical lines for RG100. 6). In figure 6. e. 90% of all storm profiles lie below this curve).20 are less than or equal to 0. 20(5): 641−653 645 . Vol.g.g. all 90% dimensionless depths in fig. duration of 0. For example. Storm mass−curve intersections with isopleths of probability (Huff curves) and NRCS design storms (“Type” curves) superimposed. the equivalent of 10% exceeding in this case). the percentages of dimensionless depths ranging from 10% to 90% in increments of 10% were found for each vertical line and the resulting points connected with lines.76.

It is apparent that the Type curves are most similar in position to the second−quartile storms. However. and 90% isopleths will be used in comparisons presented. Type II curves are used in Ohio by the NRCS. from the most advanced (largest intensity occurs early in a storm) to the most lagged patterns (largest intensity occurs later in a storm). however “the other curves allow users to determine basin runoff relations for various types of distributions that occur in nature with each of the four basic storm types (quartile groups). Which Curve to Use This most important question arises when deciding which of the 36 original curves should be used. However.g.. NRCS design storms are superimposed on the single graph of Huff curves (data not separated by quartile) in figure 6. or more than four categories. For simplicity in this article. For purposes of the present article.g. Averaging was performed by averaging clock−hour precipitation amounts over areas of different sizes. If storms are separated by month. compared with the Figure 7. the extra averaging step is omitted and only point curves are considered. For purposes of the present article. and these storms were combined into one group. Types I and IA are most closely follow the 50% curve for Coshocton data. and all others are ignored. 646 APPLIED ENGINEERING IN AGRICULTURE . the interpolated mass−curve intersections in figure 6 will be omitted. Huff curves had the largest range of patterns.g. Typically. he also states that the median curve is the most stable curve in all quartiles (curve does not change relative position with added storm data). However.” He suggests that the 10% and 90% curves would be useful for estimating runoff in the more extreme types of time distributions. IA. However. Huff (1967) originally combined all storm data across seasons and found that storm duration was related to storm quartile of maximum intensity. all dimensionless mass curves are plotted on only one graph in this article (e. One reason for smaller averages is because as a storm moves over a rain−gage network. storms with maximum intensity in the first and last half of storms). CURVES FROM AREA−AVERAGED RAIN−GAGE DATA The procedure described above is for a given set of precipitation data at a point. Comparison between point (individual rain gage) and area−averaged (combined data from gages over an area) for the 50% Huff curve using Illinois data (modified from Huff. This results in smaller intensities early in a storm compared with curves developed at a point (e. one possible reason for this observation is that summer and winter storms have different storm−duration characteristics. II.Huff (1967) presented nine isopleths in each quartile (increments of 10%) for a total of 36 curves (only three isopleths shown in each quartile in fig. 1). It is apparent that the various Type curves do not meaningfully correspond to Huff curves. and a rational basis for selection of a particular isopleth is not available.. 1990). Separation of storms into quartiles is arbitrary because an analyst could use. this categorization is unnecessary. even flexible Huff curves have their shortcomings when used as a design storm. After developing area−averaged mass curves. Bonta and Rao (1988b) compared four apparent flexible design−storm types and found that Huff curves were the most flexible pattern. Selection of a particular percentage curve is arbitrary. and many can also be flexible but have similar shapes by varying parameters that quantify the location of a major burst of rainfall. the procedure for development of the curves is identical to that described above for data at a point. while Types II and III cut across curves from 10% to 50%. 6). 1990. Furthermore. characterizing the wide variation in natural storm mass curves. and there is no good answer. only the 10%. Huff (1967) originally presented curves using data that were averaged over areas as large as 1037 km2. two categories (e. Nevertheless. The difference between the 10% and 90% isopleths represent the variance of storm mass curves. for example. Consequently. Furthermore. and not of the other quartiles. the spatial distribution of precipitation at the leading edge of a storm is highly nonuniform and tends to average to a smaller intensity compared with intensities measured at a point. This is true if all Huff curves are considered. but this requires further investigation. storm durations will tend to be similar and Huff curves may be independent of storm quartile. fig. and III) are superimposed on the four−quartile representation of Huff curves in figure 1. only the single 50% curve with maximum precipitation intensity in the first quartile is selected as a design storm to distribute precipitation totals.. NRCS design storms (Types I. and the 50% isopleth represents their central tendency. Huff. Huff (1990) states that the median curve is the single most representative curve. NERC (1975) found minor differences between point−developed and area−averaged Huff−type curves. and Type I and IA design storms are applicable to the West Coast of the United States. 50%. 7). APPROACHES TO DISAGGREGATION USING HUFF CURVES DESIGN STORMS Comparison of Flexibility of Other Design Storms Design storms can be fixed in their pattern. fig.

He suggests that the quartile occurring most frequently for a given area should be used in design. Huff and Angel (1992) state in particular. a firm supplying hydrology software. and for area−developed curves for areas between 25.” Applications of Huff Curves as Design Storms In spite of the uncertainties in selecting a curve to use for design. and Wis.) and other locations of similar precipitation.. however. While area−developed curves were constructed by Huff (1990). Huff and Angel (1992) state that “median distributions are most commonly used by hydrologists and others. Purdue et al. followed by third quartile storms. for example. Types I. the National Environmental Research Council (NERC. In research quantifying Midwest rainfall frequencies. If storms are separated by time of year (e. 1990) found general associations between duration and quartile. and on the selection of individual isopleths that should be used for design storms requires further investigation. Akan and Houghtalen (2003) report the methodology is used in the United States and in Europe. these associations may be different. Huff curves were developed by combining storms occurring in all seasons.g. IA. later in this article it will be shown that this assumption may be partially valid. and use the second quartile distributions for design involving storm durations for 6 to 12 hours. and no guidance is available. Spatial Representativeness of Huff Curves Huff (1990) suggests that the Illinois curves “should be useful to the hydrologist in estimating time distributions over areas of 10 to 400 mile2(25.. centering them at the most intense parts of storms prior to developing curves. Burke et al. followed by second quartile storms. and is not representative of the wide variation in observed storm distributions as characterized in a full set of Huff curves (e. Mo. Indiana. Coherent spatially distributed precipitation inputs to watershed models are a significant need for simulations over large basins.. Consequently. Studies should use these curves as inputs to different watershed models to develop criteria for curve selection and to document limitations of the curves. and between 130 and 1037 km2. and III) and Yen and Chow (1980). Canada for extreme events when MDPD was 2 h. was adequate for the ILLUDAS urban drainage simulation model (Terstriep and Stall. Huff (1990) suggests that the quartile occurring most frequently for a given spatial area and duration under consideration should be used in design. under dry antecedent moisture conditions. It is apparent that guidance on the use of point and area−averaged Huff curves. 1975) developed Huff−type curves by overlapping storms. The first quartile 50% curve is incorporated into the ILLUDAS model because it “represented” Illinois precipitation (Akan and Houghtalen. II. use the first quartile curves design durations of 6 hours or less. This geographic variability is recognized. Wenzel and Voorhees (1981) showed that the 50% curve (advanced storm pattern).9 and 130 km2.9 to 1037 km2). and they do not spatially distribute the precipitation. Mich. the applicability of these curves is questionable because the curves provide a lumped intensity distribution over an area. in particular for “midwestern thunderstorms.9 km2. 20(5): 641−653 647 . They used the resulting curves to determine peakedness of summer and Vol. The SWMM storm−water model suggests the use of Huff curves as one option to distribute rainfall intensities.10% and 90% curves.. (1980) used the 50% curves for Huff curves developed for West Lafayette. and then third quartile storms. For point rainfall. Hjelmfelt (1980) presented all 36 original curves (Huff. an analyst must decide whether to use point or area−developed curves. (1992) and Burke and Burke (1995) use Huff curves developed from several cities in Indiana for use in storm−water management using a MDPD of 4 h.” Furthermore. and may explain some of these observations. It is expected that Huff curves will vary geographically due to different climates. second quartile storms are associated with storms between 6 and 24 h. For example. Huff (1990) further suggests that for areas less than 25.9 to 1037 km2. Ohio.g. This guidance has never been tested. For Illinois. In the United Kingdom. Selection of Huff Curves Based on Storm Durations Huff (1967. monthly). the fourth quartile storms were generally associated with long−duration storms (>24 h).. (1983) used the 50% curve for second quartile storms for Montreal. a Huff curve used as a design storm represents only an isopleth of probability of accumulation of storm durations and depths for an entire storm. Ky. but this requires further study.” Huff and Angel (1992) found only small changes in the time distributions with increasing sampling area between 25. The 50% curve conforms to the suggestion by Pilgrim and Cordery (1975) that median or average design storms be used when assuming equal frequencies of runoff and precipitation. Iowa. fig. Haestad Methods (2003). Ind. and first quartile storms were associated with storms less than 6 h in duration. use of the quartile type occurring most often is recommended for the design duration under consideration. 6)..” and that they are “applicable in the Midwest and other areas of similar climate and topography”. by region−specific design storms reported by SCS (1986. Huff curves are being suggested as a method to disaggregate precipitation in engineering practice. suggests the Huff curves found in Huff and Angel (1992) as a potential design storm. 2003). They caution that these and other synthetic design storms may yield significantly different runoff hydrographs and may not be acceptable to reviewing agencies. First through fourth quartile median Huff curves were plotted and tabulated in Huff (1990) for point−developed curves. Minn. “For most structural design applications. for the ILLUDAS model and found that the second and third quartile curves gave 30% higher peak flows than the first quartile curve originally developed by Huff (1967).” No suggestion was given regarding the quartile from which the median curve should be selected. Huff (1990) documents that area−developed first and second quartile storms were the most prevalent for areas less than 1037 km2 in Illinois. Huff and Angel (1992) suggested that the Huff curves in their report should be applicable to the nine−state region that the report covers (Ill. third quartile storms were associated with storms between 12 and 24 h. the average of median curves for point and area−developed curves should be used.. Beaudoin et al. 1974). 1967) for use in the CREAMS agricultural field−scale water quality model and suggested the median curve without much other guidance except that the 50% curve is “probably the most useful. first quartile storms were most prevalent. The Huff curves they suggest were the same as those in Huff (1990) and are based upon only Illinois data.

. However.. 1990). use of a single fixed curve for a design storm is arbitrary and does not capture the wide variability of actual storm intensities (fig. the issue of spatial representativeness remains with the alternative methods. fig. Stochastic simulation of mass curves uses only the isopleths indirectly by sampling from them (fig.g. Huff curves summarize the range of storm conditions through isopleths from advanced (maximum intensity in early part of storm) to lagged (maximum Figure 8. vertical at 0. Only a brief description is presented in the present article. which uses all the fixed isopleths as design storms. 8). 5) is sampled by the Monte Carlo method (e.. The result of the above procedure is a set of mass curves that are in dimensionless form.g. Schematic for stochastic generation of dimensionless storm mass curves.. a mass curve in terms of depth and time units is desired for practical applications. The procedure to determine units for a mass curve is proposed by Bonta (2004). 8). and stochastic simulation of storm durations and depths. 3). Bonta and Rao (1992) used all 36 curves (design storms) contained in the four−quartile representation of Huff curves (e. Because selecting a single representative curve is difficult to justify. Bonta and Rao (1992) used such a method in their application of Huff curves to estimate peak−flow rates and their return periods.g. The following two sections describe alternative uses of the curves that have promise for disaggregating precipitation totals and address some of the limitations of Huff curves.3).0). the empirical cumulative distribution of dimensionless storm depths (fig.g. However. Each dimensionless mass−curve point of a generated mass curve is multiplied by the depth−duration pair sampled. 1). The procedure is similar to sampling from a known frequency distribution in Monte Carlo sampling. 1. and firm guidance is lacking. CONCEPT FOR HYBRID USE OF HUFF CURVES As mentioned previously. the corresponding empirical frequency distribution of dimensionless depth is sampled (e. They found no differences due to area.g. A hybrid approach is possible to maximize the information contained in Huff curves.winter 24−h hyetographs. considering the conditional relations between storm depth and duration. The only comprehensive investigation of the curves used data from Illinois (Huff. and suggested the curves are useful across the United Kingdom except for higher elevation areas. The procedure is repeated until the dimensionless mass curve reaches the coordinates (1.2). These distributions are sampled. vertical at 0. They also found no differences due to storm duration ranging from 60 min to 4 days.0. A storm mass curve with depth and duration units is thus derived. At a vertical selected near the beginning of a dimensionless storm (e. CONCEPT FOR USE OF HUFF CURVES FOR STOCHASTIC DISAGGREGATION Isopleths of probability distributions of dimensionless depths shown in figure 8 (Huff curves) from the data−derived dimensionless storm mass curves in figure 4 suggests a reverse procedure to stochastically generate dimensionless storm mass curves and subsequently. Bonta (2004) describes the use of Huff curves for stochastic simulation of storm intensities in more detail. This hybrid approach was used by Bonta and Rao (1992) in the development of a method to estimate peak flow rates and their frequencies of occurrence from small agricultural watersheds. point B). point A in fig. At the next selected dimensionless storm duration (e. It is apparent that much uncertainty remains regarding the use and limitations of Huff curves. Frequency distributions of durations and depths are formed from the storm data set developed by identifying storms using the exponential method. storm mass curves with units. Grace and Eagleson (1966) and Rao and Chenchaya (1974) also used a similar concept. 648 APPLIED ENGINEERING IN AGRICULTURE .

METHOD OF STORM IDENTIFICATION Huff curves appear insensitive to the method of storm identification (value of MDPD). SAMPLING INTERVAL OF PRECIPITATION DATA Huff curves are not sensitive to sampling interval of the data. mixed rectangular and triangular. It was found that the initial antecedent soil−water content that yielded identical frequency distributions of modeled peak runoff rates and causal rainfall intensities also matched the measured peak runoff−rate distribution. MINIMUM NUMBER OF STORMS Figure 10 shows the effect of sample size on Huff−curve development and the stability of Huff curves (no relative change in position of Huff curves with added storms) for different sample sizes. Many times a storm consisted of two points. STORM DEPTH Figure 9 shows that Huff curves resulting from use of storms less than 12. 2003) found that a minimum sample size of about 90 storms was required for Coshocton. forming a straight line. which is more representative of the breakpoint data. and 90% curves for RG100 as baseline curves. a new depth−duration pair was sampled and the model was run again with the 36 curves. Vol.7 mm. This procedure was repeated for 300 paired samples of storm depth and duration. infiltration. COMPARISON WITH OTHER DESIGN STORMS Huff curves were found to be the most flexible of four mass curve representations studied. with ideal data.7 mm. Consequently. The runoff response of an agricultural watershed to these idealized storm profiles depends on the soil−water status at the beginning of a storm. mixed triangular. guidelines for estimating the minimum sample size to develop Huff curves are needed. Ohio. II. 1988b). FACTORS AFFECTING THE UTILITY OF HUFF CURVES Several studies of factors that affect Huff−curve construction and use have been conducted that document their practical use and limitations. Many straight−line dimensionless mass curves were used to develop the Huff curves in the data set with storms having less than 12. The model was modified to run on a storm−event basis with an assigned antecedent soil−water content value. IA. It was also modified to compute the rainfall intensity (of varying duration) that caused observed peak runoff rates. Bonta and Shahalam (1998. Effect of storm size on development of Huff curves. These patterns include triangular. Hourly precipitation data gave nearly identical Huff curves as 3−min data. Two methods of computing MDPD gave different estimates but yielded very similar Huff curves (Bonta and Rao.7−mm group. 20(5): 641−653 649 . After running the model with the 36 curves. The procedure was performed for five different initial antecedent soil−water−content values ranging from dry to wet. Antecedent soil−water content was an initial state variable for the model also. This observation is because. That study documents the robustness of Huff curves to errors in estimating MDPD. These results are important because the Huff curves can be developed from more widely available hourly precipitation data (Bonta and Rao.intensity in later part of storm) as illustrated in figure 1. Each of the 36 Huff curves was used to temporally distribute a randomly sampled storm depth and duration pair with the assigned initial soil−water−content value. Some of these studies are summarized visually with Huff curves using the 10%. and III) do not correspond meaningfully to Huff curves. data and about 120 storms for some New Zealand data. a mass curve developed from minutely data would total to the same precipitation amount as hourly data every hour.7 mm are generally biased low compared to Huff curves developed from storms greater than 12. Figures 1 and 6 show that NRCS design storms (Types I. The base set of curves was developed from 182 storms. and runoff using short−time−increment precipitation. Figure 9. and the comparison can be better or worse than that shown for other samples of 10 storms. The curves developed from a sample size of 10 show poor agreement for the 90% and 50% isopleths. In their methodology a small watershed model representing agricultural areas was chosen that continuously simulated soil−water content. 50%. and Huff curves (Bonta and Rao. The small sample size graph in figure 10 is only one realization of many possible sample sizes of 10 storms. This gives validity to the assumption of equal precipitation and peak−runoff−rate distributions under conditions of varying storm durations found in the causal rainfalls. shifting all isopleths downwards on the graph. 1987). This observation is due to the many storms in which there are few breakpoints in the less−than−12. This pair of storm values was obtained stochastically in a manner similar to that described in the preceding section. 1987).

Figure 11 also shows the significant effect of season that must be considered when developing Huff curves for an area. (1980) found that West Lafayette. and Monticello. and climatological differences were apparent. 12). NERC (1975) found that their Huff−type curves did not vary regionally. as the disparities over this long distance are of the order of the disparities between the gages that are about 1. Investigation of local regionalization of Huff curves on the NAEW at Coshocton. TIME OF YEAR Time of year affects the development of Huff curves. (1980) found that the differences between curves developed at W. Bonta and Rao (1992) found that simulated peak flows were not sensitive to differing Huff− curve inputs. Indiana and the original Huff curves in Illinois were significant enough to cause differences in modeled peak flows and runoff volumes. Illinois. Bonta and Rao. Figure 12 shows possible local regionalization of Huff curves (curves developed using rain gages “close” to one another. However. Burke et al. Hogg (1980) found substantial variation in Huff curves at 35 locations across Canada. however. curves were somewhat different compared with Illinois curves. and suggest that storm data should not be combined across seasons as in the original work by Huff (1967). It also Figure 11.4 km (fig. The rain gages were separated by approximately 660 km. Effect of time of year on development of Huff curves. On the other hand. These results lend support to the conclusion of Bonta and Rao (1989). Figure 12. although they suggested they may not be applicable for higher elevations. Burke et al. Lafayette. Published Huff curves for Coshocton. These studies document the importance of developing Huff curves for different seasons of the year. OH. The winter curves (combined Jan and Feb data) show much less storm intensity variation than the spring/summer curves (May and June).4 km apart). in spite of different methods used to develop them (point versus area−averaged. Ohio. Effects of number of storms (sample size.4 km from rain gage RG100 that was used in all previous comparisons. Visually the two sets of Huff curves agree as well as one would expect. 1987). 1989). NERC (1975) also showed a significant effect of season of year. that Huff curves can be regionalized over large areas if developed in a consistent manner. 650 APPLIED ENGINEERING IN AGRICULTURE . This observation implies that there is regionalization at the “local” level. n) on development of Huff curves. REGIONALIZATION Huff curves show promise for regionalization.Figure 10. and Texas showed remarkable similarity.) Rain gage RG119 is located approximately 1. Illinois. although a sensitivity study with a watershed model will need to be conducted. Figure 13 shows the Huff curves developed from rain−gage data at Coshocton. The similarity between Huff curves developed at each site is remarkable. These studies are important because a single set of Huff curves could be used over large areas. approximately 1. Ohio (comparison of RG100 and RG119. Widely varying Huff curve shapes were apparent when summer and winter storms were used to develop Huff curves (Bonta and Rao. Indiana. in which only readily available published Huff curves were compared.

Furthermore. the following research needs can be identified. This implies that other watershed models normally requiring short−time interval data can alternatively use hourly data. an objective method is needed to compare sets of Huff curves to determine if they are statistically the same. S Quantify the association between duration and quartile if storms are separated by time of the year. TABULATION OF PRECIPITATION RECORDS Experience by the author in development of Huff curves has shown that they are sensitive to the depth and time resolutions of the raw data and the diligence of the person tabulating charts to insure good digitization of original rain−gage chart traces. This procedure involved simultaneously fitting the nine equations in an individual quartile to the data. by forcing them to remain the same or increase (first derivative was greater than or equal to zero). monthly precipitation distribution changes. 20(5): 641−653 651 .forcing the equations through the points (0. (Bonta and Rao. S Investigate improved methods for objectively comparing Huff curves so regions of similar curves can be identified. S Develop quality−control guidelines for Huff curve development such as minimum number of storms. the form of precipitation is often not given in short−time interval precipitation records. described for peak−flow modeling. This is important because Huff curves developed from hourly data can be used to estimate peak flows from small watersheds having times of concentration of the order of minutes . as well as to identify when snow actually occurs in records where precipitation is not identified as snow. They are useful for computing causal precipitations and associated frequencies.0) and (1. S As elevation increases. S Many times only a lumped snowfall amount is available. This is important because data from weather generators and most precipitation data are given in a 24−h time step. and snow intensities are not tabulated. 1992) This observation is important because large errors in estimating MDPD can be tolerated. As rain gages farther apart are compared. Figure 13. Illinois approximately 644 km apart). and precipitation occurs more frequently as snow. One approach to this problem might be to determine frequency distributions of various precipitation parameters. urban drainage design. A method is needed to develop storm totals when only 24−h totals are given. Ohio and Monticello. FITTING EQUATIONS TO HUFF CURVES Tenth−degree polynomials were successfully fitted to Huff curves using linear programming (Bonta and Rao. however. and simplify the hybrid use of Huff curves with watershed models. S The discussion in this article so far has focused on storm totals. SENSITIVITY OF A WATERSHED MODEL – MDPD OF PRECIPITATION DATA The same peak−flow estimation method was not affected by large differences in MDPD estimates. this list is not comprehensive: S Develop guidance on the use of Huff curves if they are used strictly as design storms. Exploratory investigations of relationships between storm depths and corresponding 24−h amounts would significantly include a large precipitation data base consisting of 24−h amounts across the United States and in other countries.). 1988c). RESEARCH NEEDS Based on previous studies and experience using Huff curves. One potential problem is that the time of observation for 24−h amounts can vary from one gage to another. 1992). Investigation of distant regionalization of Huff curves (Coshocton. The effect will be similar to a seasonal effect. for large watersheds.g. Storms spanning several days would need to be investigated. and they do not represent readings at 2400. but more research is needed. S Determine the importance of separating Huff curves into quartiles if data are separated by month. Objective methods of comparing curves were tested by Bonta and Shahalam (1998. SENSITIVITY OF A WATERSHED MODEL – SAMPLING INTERVAL OF PRECIPITATION DATA The peak−flow estimation method developed using the hybrid Huff−curve and stochastic storm input showed that the sampling interval of precipitation data did not affect peak flow rates and corresponding frequencies of occurrence (Bonta and Rao. time of year.. etc. S Investigate the hybrid approach. A method is needed to disaggregate lumped snow totals. and by Vol. 2003). suggests that the recommendation by Huff and Angel (1992) regarding regionalization over their 9−state Midwest area may have some validity. and so factors affecting their development can be studied (e. monthly totals change. constraining the fits by not allowing the nine curves to overlap. minimum number of points. The effect of elevation on Huff curves needs to be identified and quantified in mountainous areas. Equations can simplify use of frequency distributions for stochastic simulation. This result also makes available the more widespread hourly data base to develop curves.1). such as time to start of a storm in a day. by not allowing them to exceed dimensionless depths and durations of unity. etc. minimum number of storms needed for stable Huff curves.

and research needs for advancing the utility of Huff curves for storm disaggregation are summarized. Other supporting programs include SAS programs (SAS. and A. J. La Houille Blanche 1:37−43 (in French). Comparison of four design−storm hyetographs. R. CONCLUSIONS The present study described the utility of using Huff curves for disaggregating precipitation totals. Three approaches for using Huff curves to disaggregate precipitation totals are described: design storms (fixed). Develop a procedure for using Huff curves for probabilistic forecasting. Gray. R. number of isopleths to construct. J. T. 1989. Indiana Technical Assistance Program. 1998. 1994. 2004. C. The potential use of these curves. and III) and Huff curves.. Inc. International Symposium on Urban Storm Runoff. D. and D. minimum number of points.. Marchi.. 1988b. a file with dimensionless mass curves for all storms. distribution of the number of storms in each quartile (including ties) for each season. R. R. 1988c. Beaudoin. Bumgarner. Factors affecting development of Huff curves. Bonta..: ASAE. The outputs from the program include a log file for the computer run. Water Resources Bulletin 25(1): 211−217. considering the limitations of built−in serial correlation. and Managing. Lexington. Rainfall for designing urban drainage systems. Modeling.: University of Kentucky. Rao. Shahalam. Purdue University. II. 1976.. 7th Federal Interagency Sedimentation Conference. Stormwater Drainage Manual. Desbordes.. Joseph.. and A. V. 1988a. Bonta. maximizing the information contained in Huff curves and address some concerns regarding their use as design storms. Chapter 2. Two input files are required: a file with mass curves of precipitation for a period of record and an information file. C. and a file with the isopleths. 2001. The information file contains data such as monthly MDPD values. a file with mass−curve intersections for the specified verticals. Bonta. Water Resources Bulletin 19(3): 483−487. minimum (or maximum) threshold storm depth to consider.. 71−79. A triangular model of dimensionless runoff producing rainfall hyetographs in Texas. Bonta. and A. Reno. and R. of Hydrology (NZ) 42(1): 65−74. R. reducing and simplifying graphs from four quartile graphs to one graph). Develop a spatially distributed and coherent approach to constructing and using Huff curves. of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering 118(1): 122−137. 1980. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Burke. COMPUTER PROGRAM FOR CONSTRUCTING HUFF CURVES A FORTRAN program is available to facilitate construction of Huff curves from a precipitation record. and A. Fahlquist. V.. A computer program is available to facilitate the development of Huff curves for stimulating research into their practical use. and A. V. B. J. 1992. D. R. and A. Hydraulics. Expanded use of Huff curves as described in the latter two approaches offer opportunities for 652 APPLIED ENGINEERING IN AGRICULTURE . 982192.. Bonta. IA. S. Stochastic simulation of storm occurrence. 5−19.e. Rao. In Proc. number of verticals. This investigation will identify the important factors that should be considered in quality−control guidelines and those factors that are not important. and A.. J. of Irrigation & Drainage Eng. Factors affecting the identification of independent storm events. V.. Houghtalen. 1990) that use these output files to generate plots similar to figures 3−6. 2003.. O. V. Raous. Rao. Transactions of the ASAE 31(1): 102−106. Reliability of the design storm concept in evaluating runoff peak flow. of Hydrology 98: 275−293. and P. Estimating peak flows from small agricultural watersheds. L. J. 2003. but months can be consolidated to define multi−month seasons). and L. and T. 120(2): 422−439. and a hybrid of these two approaches (use of all of the fixed design storm patterns comprising Huff curves and stochastic simulation of storm depths and durations). Transactions of the ASAE 44(6): 1593−1601. and F. Un example de L’interet des etudes de sensibilite des modeles hydrologiques. 1995. J. J. a file with storm information. Bonta. of the American Water Resources Association 39(4): 911−921. of the Sediment: Monitoring. I−1 − I−7. Investigation of techniques to compare Huff curves. Huff curves are a probabilistic representation of accumulated storm depths for corresponding accumulated storm durations expressed in dimensionless form. J. This investigation would include reducing the number of Huff curves from 36 to 9 (i. H. Seasonal distributions of peak flows from small agricultural watersheds. duration. and G. Perform a sensitivity study to determine the effects of the various factors affecting Huff curves on watershed response variables that quantify hydrology and water quality. Ky. A. Bingner. NV The publisher is the Subcommittee on Sedimentation. Rao. R. M. and A. St. Rao. W. Rao. V. 2001. Mich. Bonta. and Stormwater Quality. B. R. and within−storm intensities. REFERENCES Akan. The development of Huff curves is described because it is not documented in the literature. J. Evaluate the utility of Huff curves for global−change applications. Submitted to Transactions of the ASAE Bonta. Cumulative storm rainfall distributions: comparison of Huff curves. In Urban Hydrology. V. the state of knowledge. V. and A.. J. Regionalization of storm hyetographs. J. 1983. a proposed stochastic simulation of within−storm intensities.. West Lafayette. V. Burke. ASAE Paper No. J. R. Rao. Fitting equations to families of dimensionless cumulative hyetographs. Characterizing and estimating spatial and temporal variability of times between storms.S S S S S and water−quality modeling. Ind. Improve and test the stochastic simulation approach. J. Asquith.. J. Transactions of the ASAE 31(3): 756−760. J. V. Bonta. Shahalam. Burke. Rousselle.. 1987. season definitions (smallest time interval is one month. 2003. J. Transactions of the ASAE 30(6): 1689−1693. Bonta. AnnAGNPS: Estimating sediment yield by particle size for sheet & rill erosion. Theurer. A. J. J. and program−control−variable values. Rao. P. V. This program is useful for further research into maximizing the utility of Huff curves for the hydrology profession. J. depth. R. Bonta. Duration and temporal distribution of storms in urban drainage design. There is no meaningful correspondence between NRCS design storms (Types I.

2000. Technical Report No. B. of the Canadian Hydrology Symposium: Hydrology of Developed Areas. H. A. American Meteorological Society. Svc. 1975. 1969.. D. Appl. R. London. D. Statistical characteristics of short time increment rainfall. Time distribution of clock hour rainfall. Illinois State Water Survey. and J. G. W. 1975. SAS/GRAPH RSoftware: Reference. Johnson.S. A. Purdue University Water Resources Research Center. Temporal patterns of design rainfall for Sydney. South Africa Report No. Huff. The Illinois urban drainage area simulator. and H. U. and B. Keifer. S.. R. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.. The synthesis of short−time increment rainfall sequences. Vol. S. D. Soil Erosion Res.. Angel. CE−EHE−92−09. Vogel.. Flanagan and M. 1/1983. 1982. A. http://topsoil. Time distributions of heavy rainstorms in Illinois. Ill. 1992. Univ. Ind. 55: 303−319. L. SAS Institute Inc. A. Ill. First Edition. 1990. Cary. H. A.C. C. NSERL Report No. Gander. Mass. 1980.nserl.. A. B. French. Lane. Cumming. Gwf−wasser/Abwasser114(9): 435−440 (in German). National Research Council. and J. An improved rainfall intensity distribution for hydrograph synthesis. Champaign. 1981.. L. T. J. 1994. Version 6. A. Lab. Sutherland. Ind. 1974. 1976. J. Washington. L. F. Restrepo. and G. Cambridge. USDA−ARS National Soil Erosion Research Laboratory. Report No.. 1966.: Haestad Methods. In 13th AMS Conf. Synthetic storm pattern for drainage design. Woolhiser. L.. Huff.C. Hydrodynamics Laboratory. and V. J. F. Voorhees. Jenkins. D. Ottawa. 1967. Sifalda. Research Report 164. T. Dept. C. Microcomputer program for daily weather simulation. ASCE 106(HY6): 1055−1076. runoff. Osborn. Winter. Illinois State Water Survey. Illinois State Water Survey Bulletin 58.. 26. Eagleson. L.. H. The GEM (Generation of weather Elements for Multiple applications) weather simulation model. In Hillslope Profile and Watershed Model Documentation. Flood Studies Report.purdue. Champaign. L. L. Jr. The Design Storm Concept. and M. Proc. Urbana−Champaign. Champaign. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.. Vol. Illinois State Water Survey Report of Investigation 82. D. V. Water Resources Center. B. N. 1992. C. Weather Generator.Grace. G. Portland. Purdue University. 1957. and M. 2. Hydrometeorology of heavy rainstorms in Chicago and Northeastern Illinois. and P. R. Jeong. and C. 1980.. A. A. Transactions of the ASAE 32(3): 865−873. Flanagan. West Lafayette.. W.eds. and J. Ill. USDA. D. T. Urban Water Resources Research Group. Frymire. and I. West Lafayette. ARS−114. Illinois State Water Survey. K. Yen. I. Patry. D. 91. West Lafayette. Identification of independent rainstorms. 53−63. Res. 1973.J. School of Civil Engineering. Probabilistic analysis and simulation of the short time increment rainfall process. Nearing. Hanson. Johannesburg. Eagleson. 1980. Huff. 1986. Haestad Methods. Australia CE11(1): 9−14. No. 1990. Champaign. USDA−ARS Natl. A. J. G. M. Ill. Quebec. Institution of Engineers. and A.edu/nserlweb/weppmain/BPCDG. Washington. Stall. Huff. of the Hydraulics Division. Ill. Soil Conservation Service (SCS). ASCE 83(HY4): 1−25. Climate Change: The IPCC Scientific Assessment. Civil Engineering Transactions. 1982. T. G. 117−121. Houghton. P. and D. Nicks. and D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. F. and R.. T. F. Design hyetographs for small drainage structures. Chenchayya. A. Hanson. Conservation Research Report No. F. Pub. Woolhiser. J. Rainfall temporal patterns for design floods. 1979. Chapter 2. A.. Pilgrim. First Ed. Ind. of the Hydraulics Divison. and erosion from agricultural management systems. Daily precipitation simulation model for mountainous areas. C. Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). Hjelmfelt. H. Stormwater Conveyance Modeling and Design.C. 55. 2. G. McPherson. Conn. 1989. School of Civil Engineering.. Agric. Cambridge: University Press. Cordery. J. R.S. and J. A. Huff. R. G. J. of the Hydraulics Division HY1: 81−95.: SAS Institute Inc. ILLUDAS. Toronto. R. An evaluation of the urban design storm concept.. 2002. Water Resources Research 3(4): 1007−1019. and W. Circular 173. F. Rao. A. 1995. Time distribution of rainfall in heavy storms. C.Meteorological studies. Technical Release 55. Proc. C. Chow. Richardson. Champaign. D. M.. Urban hydrology for small watersheds. and J. H. U. L. 2003. In CREAMS. of the Witwatersrand. Washington.. of Civil Engineering. Rao. Hydrol. Zeleke. Entwicklung eines Berechnungsregens für die Bemessung von Kanalnetzen. 10. Cordery. BPCDG: Breakpoint climate data generator for WEPP using observed standard weather data sets. and P. Ontario: NRC. L..C. University of Illinois at Urbana−Champaign. J. 1990. Department of Agriculture. Whitefriars Press Ltd. Purdue. B. 20(5): 641−653 653 .. No. Chu. 1974. J. Pilgrim. A field scale model for chemicals. Terstriep. Ill. Time distribution of short duration storm rainfall in Canada. 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