HEC‑RAS Culvert Expansion & Contraction Coefficients

Culvert Entrance

User‑defined coefficients are required to compute head losses due to the contraction and expansion of flows upstream and downstream of a culvert. These losses are computed by multiplying an expansion or contraction coefficient by the absolute difference in velocity head between two cross sections.

If the velocity head increases in the downstream direction, a contraction coefficient is applied. When the velocity head decreases in the downstream direction, an expansion coefficient is used.

As indicated by the below suggested values, the expansion of flow causes more energy loss than the contraction. Also, energy losses increase with the abruptness of the transition. For culverts with abrupt flow transitions, the contraction and expansion loss coefficients should be increased to account for additional energy losses.

Contraction Expansion Coefficients

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