Wildfire can significantly alter the hydrologic response of a watershed to the extent that even modest rainstorms can produce dangerous flash floods and debris flows. The USGS conducts post-fire debris-flow hazard assessments for select fires in the Western U.S. We use geospatial data related to basin morphometry, burn severity, soil properties, and rainfall characteristics to estimate the probability and volume of debris flows that may occur in response to a design storm.

The maps below depict the likelihood of debris-flow generation and estimates of flow magnitude in locations where debris flows initiate. The models do not predict downstream impacts, potential debris-flow runout paths, and the areal extent of debris-flow or flood inundation.

For information on what to do if you live in a recently-burned area where debris flows are possible, and there is a rainstorm - before, during, and after, download the National Weather Service Post Wildfire Flash Flood and Debris Flow Guide (PDF 7.2 MB)