Water Resources Division

Flood Preparedness & Awareness

Yakima River Basin Flood History

FLOODING HISTORY AND IMPACTS

Since 1894, the flow in the Yakima River has exceeded flood level 47 times. Since 1970 the area was declared a federal disaster area due to flooding 8 times in 27 years. The largest flood of record occurred in December 1933, despite completion of the Yakima Project reservoir system by the US Bureau of Reclamation.

In 1938 designs for a federal levee system on the Yakima River were completed, but this project was not constructed until after World War II, completed in 1948, and repaired and extended the next year after the 1948 flood. These works were constructed to protect the urban areas of Yakima and Terrace Heights. A series of large floods during the 1970’s prompted further studies by the Corps, and the levees earlier constructed under Corps authority were raised twice in the 1970’s and the 1990’s. There were three major flood events in the 1990’s culminating in the 1996 flood. During this flood several areas along the Corps levees protecting the urban area received successful emergency reinforcement during the flood.

Most of the same floods occurred on the Naches River. In the 1970’s, SR 12 was constructed adjacent to the river, to an elevation to withstand the 200 year flood. The area of SR 12 upstream of the 16th Avenue exit has experienced repeated flood damage since the 1980’s and failure of this roadway during a major flood event would inundate a significant portion of Yakima.

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1933 Flood - Toppenish
1933 Flood - Toppenish

1948 Flood Union Gap
1948 Flood Union Gap
 
1948 Flood Selah Gap
1948 Flood - Selah Gap
1948 Floos - Keyes Road
1948 Flood - Keyes Road
   

1996 Flood - Yakima River - Selah Gap
1996 Flood - Yakima River - Selah Gap

1996 Flood - Yakima River - Waste Water Treatment Plan
1996 - Waste Water Treatment Plant

Historic River Levels

Yakima River at Cle Elum (USGS)

Date of Event

Flow (cfs)

Area (sq mi)

502

Nov-14-1906

25,600

Period of Record

1907-1990

Dec-30-1917
Dec-13-1921

19,900
19,500

Dec-2-1977

17,600

Dec-24-1909

17,300

May-29-1948

16,700

Nov-23-1959

14,000

Jun-3-1913

11,300

Dec-13-1928

10,600

May-30-1917

10,100

Missing Flood Data: 1904, 1906, 1990


Yakima River at Umtanum (USGS)

Date of Event

Flow (cfs)

Area (sq mi)

1594

Nov-14-1906

41,000

Period of Record

1907-2007

Dec-23-1933
May-29-1948

32,200
27,800

Feb-9-1996

27,200

Nov-25-1909

22,900

Nov-25-1990

22,800

Dec-2-1977

21,500

Nov-23-1959

19,100

Dec-26-1980

16,800

Dec-3-1975

16,600

Missing Flood Data: 1904, 1906


Yakima River near Parker (USGS)

Date of Event

Flow (cfs)

Area (sq mi)

3660

Dec-23-1933

65,000

Period of Record

1908-1977

Feb-9-1996
Dec-30-1917

58,150
52,900

Yakima River near Parker (BOR)

Dec-27-1980

47,337

Area (sq mi)

3660

May-29-1948

37,700

Period of Record

1979-2007

Nov-30-1995
Nov-26-1990

36,504
35,620

Dec-13-1921

35,800

Dec-3-1977

35,090

 
Jan-8-2009

32,630

 
Jan-16-1974
28,000
 
Nov-23-1959
27,400
 
Dec-4-1975
26,500

 

 

Missing Flood Data: 1904, 1906


Yakima River at Kiona (USGS)

Date of Event

Flow (cfs)

Area (sq mi)

5615

Dec-23-1933

67,000

Period of Record

1878-1914, 1933-2007

Nov-17-1906
Feb-11-1996

66,000
49,400

Jan-18-1974

39,700

Nov-18-1896

38,000

May-31-1948

37,900

Apr-17-1904

32,000

Nov-26-1909

30,600

Dec-28-1980

27,600

Dec-4-1977

27,000

Missing Flood Data: 1917, 1921


Naches River below Tieton (USGS)

Date of Event

Flow (cfs)

Area (sq mi)

941

Dec-22-1933

32,200

Period of Record

1909-1979

Feb-8-1996
Nov-24-1909

20,924
19,400

Naches River at Naches (BOR)

Dec-2-1977

18,000

Area(sq mi)

941

Dec-30-1917

16,800

Period of Record

1979-2007

Nov-20-1995
Dec-13-1921

16,434
14,500

Dec-4-1975

14,100

Jun-1-1956

13,300

Jun-17-1974

12,800

 
May-25-1948
12,600
 
Jun-18-1916
11,700

Missing Flood Data: 1904, 1906


North Fork Ahtanum near Tampico (USGS)

Date of Event

Flow (cfs)

Area (sq mi)

78.9

Jan-15-1974

1,580

Period of Record

1908-1921, 1932-1979

Dec-2-1977
May-20-1956

1,080
823

North Fork Ahtanum near Tampico (AID)

May-27-1948
Mar-1-1910

770
766

Area (sq mi)

78.9

Dec-22-1933

755

Period of Record

1997-2006

Jun-18-1916
May-11-1951

728
655

May-20-1912

629

Jun-10-1972

593

Missing Flood Data: 1904, 1906, 1980, 1990, 1996


Ahtanum Creek at Union Gap (USGS)

Date of Event

Flow (cfs)

Area (sq mi)

173

Jan-16-1974

3100

Period of Record

1910-1914, 1960-2007

Feb-9-1996
Feb-2-1995

2,660
1,700

Mar-3-1910

1,530

Feb-5-1963

1,340

Mar-13-1983

1,240

Feb-21-1982

1,110

Feb-29-1980

1,020

Feb-1-2003

1,010

Dec-3-1977

882

Missing Flood Data:1904, 1906, 1909, 1916, 1917, 1921, 1933, 1948, 1951, 1956


American River near Nile (USGS)

Date of Event

Flow (cfs)

Area (sq mi)

78.9

Dec-26-1980

6,280

Period of Record

1940-2006

Dec-4-1975
Jan-16-1974

4,860
4,310

Feb-9-1996

4,050

Jan-2-1968

3,440

May-27-1948

3,420

Nov-2-2006

3,130

Dec-2-1977

3,020

May-20-1956

2,870

Nov-27-1949

2,530

Missing Flood Data: 1904, 1906, 1909, 1917, 1921, 1933

Largest Basin Floods in order: 1933, 1906, 1996, 1917, 1974, 1896, 1948, 1977, 1904, 1980, 1990, 1909

Largest Spring Floods in order: 1948, 1904, 1956, 1974