A new approach is proposed to analyze the surface flow and subsurface flow passing over a pervious ground under a uniform rainfall excess. The flow field is divided into two regions that are called water layer and soil layer. To figure out the hydraulic behavior of overland flow on an inclined plane under a rainfall event, the simplified Navier–Stokes equations are employed for the surface water flow, and the flow inside the soil layer is porous media flow, which is governed by Biot's (1956, 1962) theory of poroelasticity. The velocity distribution of overland flow is nonzero at the ground surface. The relation between water depth and slope length was developed first. The profile of surface water flow was then found backwards from the downstream end of the flow section by the Runge–Kutta method. After that, the flow velocity and flow discharge of each layer could also be obtained via the water depth. Finally, the variation of fluid shear stress inside the soil layer is also discussed. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.