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Research is ensuring stormwater systems are designed for the future
Date:4/23/2012

re designed to handle slightly more than 3.5 inches of rain in 24 hours. This rainfall event is expected to happen once every 10 years.

Issues arise because the National Weather Service has not updated rainfall distribution maps for the state of Kansas since 1961. Researchers are updating this data to provide a more accurate weather benchmark that engineers can use when designing stormwater systems. Kansas is ideal for studying climate change and variability because there is more variability across Kansas than from the eastern edge of Kansas to the Atlantic Ocean, Hutchinson said.

To track weather patterns and understand how they have changed, the researchers conducted a similar analysis as the 1961 data. Rahmani studied weather and rainfall data from 24 weather stations in Kansas and 15 stations outside the state. The researchers noticed several trends in the data they collected.

"We're actually seeing more rain across the state, which is kind of surprising because we thought it would be getting drier in the western part of the state," Hutchinson said. "We are getting wetter across the state, but it is much more drastic in the southeast, where we are seeing more high-intensity storms."

The research team found that the 1961 data overestimated the size of storms. That means the currently designed systems are adequate for stormwater management, Hutchinson said, but if the shift in more rain and stronger weather events continues, stormwater systems may need to be redesigned.

"There is discussion among the engineering community about if we need to rethink the size of storm that we design for," Hutchinson said. "The bottom line is that now we have an idea of how weather trends have shifted across the state. This information will be useful to anybody who deals with stormwater runoff -- from the Kansas Department of Transportation to agricultural producers."

The research also is helpful for improving natural stormwater
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Contact: Stacy Hutchinson
sllhutch@k-state.edu
785-532-2943
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

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