“Using HEC-RAS for Dam Break Studies”

Written by Chris Goodell | November 7, 2014

HEC recently published a new training document called “Using HEC-RAS for Dam Break Studies”.  Written by Gary Brunner, P.E., D.WRE, it is an easy to follow guide for performing Dam Break simulations in HEC-RAS.
It covers topics like:

  • Which routing technique to use to route flows through your reservoir (Dynamic or Level Pool-although I wish they had included my method and Kopsky’s method),
  • Estimating dam breach characteristics, including some of the newer erosion process models,
  • Downstream flood routing/Modeling issues.  For those of you who have or have had troubles with stability while trying to route a dam breach hydrograph, this last section will be very helpful.

The document also covers dam break modeling using the new 2D features in HEC-RAS and provides some nice example applications.  This document should be on your desk, ready to reference, for every HEC-RAS dam break study you work on.
You can download “Using HEC-RAS for Dam Break Studies” from the HEC website at http://www.hec.usace.army.mil/publications/TrainingDocuments/TD-39.pdf
from my Google Drive site at:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0bpiyLiUeRXSHpCR2s4RjdCeFk/view?usp=sharing


  1. hanine nano

    on April 25, 2017


  2. deepak

    on July 1, 2018

    hi, i am using level pool routing for landslide dammed lake outburst flood simulation. how do i get the flow hydro graph for boundary condition? how do i model the inline structure(landslide dam), is it possible with the regular methods?

  3. Bryan

    on June 23, 2020

    I need this file!! cant get it. the drive one was deleted and site is offline

  4. Chris Goodell

    on June 23, 2020

    I just got it here: https://www.hec.usace.army.mil/publications/TrainingDocuments/TD-39.pdf

  5. Chris

    on February 12, 2021

    Hi. I am performing a dam break in hec ras using a storage area, connection (dam), 2d area and boundary condition at the outlet (normal depth). The inundated areas and depth results are quite logical. In previous studies in the same area, the estimated time for the flood wave from dam to outlet was six or seven times smaller than in my model. How can I fix this? Any suggestion please?

  6. Chris Goodell

    on February 23, 2021

    You might play with mesh resolution. If your mesh is too coarse, it can overestimate travel time. Also, make sure your Courant numbers are appropriate (see 2D manual).

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