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An Introduction to TR-55

Kristina Schneider February 27, 2001

Model Overview
Applies to small urban and urbanizing watersheds but can be used with other watersheds if limitations are met. Uses simplified methods for estimating:

Storm runoff volume (SCS Method) Peak rate of discharge (Graphical Method) Hydrographs (Tabular Method) Storage Volumes (Quick Manual Method)

Includes four regional 24 hour rainfall distributions The critical parameter is the time of concentration.

Tc = Sum ( Time of travel for segments)

Tt = L/V

Rainfall Distributions
Types I and IA

Pacific maritime climates with wet winters and dry summers IA is the least intense rainfall Atlantic coastal areas and the Gulf of Mexico where tropical storms with large 24 hour rainstorms occur. The rest of the country Most intense short duration rainfall

Type III

Type II

Rainfall Distributions

Rainfall Distributions

SCS Runoff Curve Number Method


Runoff Calculation Limitations

CNs are for average conditions Does not account for rainfall intensity or duration Less accurate when runoff is less than 0.5 inches

Graphical Peak Discharge Method

Allows you to calculate the peak discharge Equation:
qp = quAmQFp qp = peak discharge (cfs) qu = unit peak discharge (csm/in) Am = drainage area (mi2) Q = runoff (in) Fp = pond and swamp adjustment factor

Graphical Peak Discharge Method

1. 2.




Tc (hr) Drainage Area (mi2) Appropriate Rainfall Distribution (I, IA, II, or III) 24-hour Rainfall (in) CN

Graphical Peak Discharge Method

Use Inputs to find the Ia/P ratio

Graphical Peak Discharge Method

Determine qu with Tc, Ia/P, and rainfall distribution type.


Example distribution There is one distribution for each rainfall type.


Graphical Peak Discharge Method

Worksheet available to aid in calculation

See Worksheet 4 in the back of your slides


Can only be used for peak discharge Watershed must be homogenous Only one main stream Cannot perform valley or reservoir routing Ia/P must be in range given in the manual (3.000 0.041)

Tabular Hydrograph Method

Used to compute peak discharges from rural and urban areas. Can develop partial composite flood hydrographs for any point in the watershed by dividing up the watershed into homogenous subareas. Also, can be used for estimating the effects of proposed structures.

Tabular Hydrograph Method

Required Information:

2. 3.

5. 6.

7. 8. 9.

Subdivision of the watershed into areas of homogenous watershed characteristics Drainage Area (mi2) Tc (hr) Tt time of travel for each reach (hr) Weighted CN Appropriate Rainfall Distribution (I, IA, II, or III) Total Runoff (in) Ia for each subarea Ia/P ratio of each subarea

Tabular Hydrograph Method: Composite Flood Hydrograph

Use worksheet 5a to summarize the basic watershed data Worksheet 5b is used to develop the tabular discharge summary

q= qtAmQ q= hydrograph coordinate (cfs) at hydrograph time t qt=tabular unit discharge located in exhibit 5 (csm/in) depends on rainfall distribution Am = drainage area of individual subarea (mi2) Q = runoff (in)

Storage Volume for Detention Basins: Manual Method

Quick way for planners to examine multiple alternatives. Good for both single- and multi-stage storage basins Constraints

Each stage requires a design storm A storage is calculated for each stage

Storage Volume for Detention Basins: Manual Method

Use Worksheet 6a to calculate the volume of storage (Vs) if the following factors are known:

qo = peak outflow discharge qi = peak inflow discharge Vr = runoff volume

Use Worksheet 6b to estimate qo

The worksheets are in the back of your handout.

Storage Volume for Detention Basins: Manual Method

Storage Volume for Detention Basins: Manual Method


Less accurate as the qo/qi ratio reaches the limit of the relationship graph Biased towards overestimating the storage needed Should be used as an initial design step

General Limitations
Flow is based on open and unconfined flow over land or in channels. Graphical Method is used only for homogenous watersheds. Tabular Method can be used for heterogeneous watersheds divided up into homogenous subwatersheds. Approximate storage-routing curves should not be used if the adjustment for ponding is used.

Soil Conservation Service (SCS), Urban Hydrology for Small Watersheds, Tech. Release 55, Washington, DC. 1986. Available online at /quality/common/tr55/tr55.pdf McCuen, R.H., Hydrologic Analysis and Design, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1998.