Historic flooding hits Iowa

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 5:07 PM GMT on June 13, 2008

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Truly extraordinary flooding has hit the Cedar River in the town of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Rainfall amounts in excess of 12 inches have fallen in the past ten days over the Cedar River watershed, which extends to the northwest of Cedar Rapids into southern Minnesota. The rains that fell during the weekend of June 7-8 were fueled in part by moisture from Tropical Storm Alma/Arthur, which affected Central America May 29 - June 2. The Cedar River is expected to crest today at 31.8 feet, which is an amazing 19.8 feet above the flood stage of 12 feet. During the historic 1993 flood, the worst in recent history, the river hit only 19.27 feet, 7 feet above flood stage. Nine rivers in Iowa are at all-time record flood levels, and Iowa Governor Chet Culver has declared 83 of the state's 99 counties state disaster areas. Additional heavy rainfall is not expected over the Cedar River watershed over the next two days, so today should mark the peak of this year's historic flooding.


Figure 1. Total rainfall for the period June 2 - June 12, 2008, as estimated by NASA's TRMM satellite. An additional three inches fell over portions of eastern Iowa in the 24 hours since this image was created.

New way to track river flooding on wunderground
Wunderground has added a way to track local river forecast levels and assess flood risk at www.wunderground.com/wundermap/rivers. Using data from the USGS (the U.S. Geological Survey), the product plots river data and forecasts on top of our interactive "WunderMap". Users can scroll across the country and zoom in and out to view in-depth observations from all major rivers in the U.S. Alternatively, one can click an option to view only the rivers with current flood alerts. Each river observation is color coordinated to reflect its dry/wet percentile and users can click on each observation point to view data and graphs that display Flow Rate, Percentile, Current Stage, Forecast Stage and Flood Stage. Flood Alert symbols will appear on every river icon whenever a river is in danger of flooding.

The WunderMap™ also allows one to choose from a variety of layers including current conditions, animated radar, severe weather and tornado warnings, live webcam images and animated infrared or visible satellite imagery showing cloud coverage. WunderMap™ is available as a link on every U.S. forecast page, just under the small radar image.

Tornado outbreak update
The tornado that stuck the Little Sioux Scout Ranch Boy Scout camp in western Iowa Wednesday night, killing 4 and injuring 48, was rated an EF-3 on the Enhanced Fujita scale. The tornado that hit Manhattan, Kansas the same day, causing major damage at Kansas State University, has been rated an EF-4. This is the tenth violent (EF-4 or EF-5) tornado this year, the most number of violent tornadoes since 13 were observed in 1999.

The Storm Prediction Center is calling for a "Slight" risk of severe weather across the Midwest today, from Michigan to Oklahoma. We can expect a few more tornadoes today in the affected region, although the primary severe weather threat will be damaging thunderstorm winds and large hail. The "Slight" risk of severe weather continues Saturday and Sunday across a large portion of the Midwest.

Tropics
It's quiet in the tropics. There is some disorganized thunderstorm activity in the southern Gulf of Mexico associated with a surface trough of low pressure, but this activity is not likely to develop. None of the models are forecasting tropical storm formation in the next seven days.

Jeff Masters

Sandbagging (Bubbly)
Great volunteer work on sandbagging in Coralville
Sandbagging
Flooding in Coralville (Bubbly)
Roads closed and houses evacuated; today multiplied both of these with floodwaters still rising and more rain coming.
Flooding in Coralville
Mammatus Clouds at Sunset (RCPlains)
Mammatus Clouds at Sunset

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280. weathersp
4:22 PM EDT on June 14, 2008
273..

Its not a tornado is a waterspout. lol xD
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279. sarasotaman
8:14 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
Alert. A Severe storm is close to Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. Be ready for heavy rain once agian.
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278. surfmom
8:04 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
Back from the Polo Barns, hose pressure way low, means ground water is low. Nice SE breeze out there, so working was not oppressive. Horse happy to take a walk, brief trot --way to hot to cantor this afternoon. Horses were happy to get hosed down, didn't even have to tie them up, they stayed right by the water.

Nothing happening for surfers on the gomex presently. Today a SE 5 knot wind on shore.Gulf by Siesta key 82-3 degrees No surf, wave models hint at a small swell late in the work week @6/18 will see if that holds. In the meantime, No excuse for not grabbing the board and going for a paddle. Prior preparation keeps you fit for when the waves do come.
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277. animalrsq
4:13 PM EDT on June 14, 2008
Thanks. I know there's a warning but my team members are on the ground in Cedar Rapids. I know there's people on here who can look at the radar and tell what's going on! TIA!!
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276. sarasotaman
8:08 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
Severe Thunderstom Waring for Fayette county
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275. trunkmonkey
8:09 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
Link

Put this link as a favorite, it is real time coverage for storms in the USA
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274. sarasotaman
8:05 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
Tornado waring on radar in iwoa.
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273. animalrsq
4:02 PM EDT on June 14, 2008
Can anyone tell me if that's really a tornado on the ground west of Cedar Rapids?
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272. JLPR2
4:02 PM AST on Junio 14, 2008
but it has been cloudy all day here =P I am waiting for the rain =P
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271. JLPR2
4:01 PM AST on Junio 14, 2008
yep drak they are about to get inshore but not yet =)
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270. Skyepony (Mod)
7:58 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
Upper level trough helping the DR wave out today...

Drak~ nice loop.
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269. Drakoen
7:58 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
JLPR is see some pretty heavy rainfall off-shore. The downpours are of to the Northwest.
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268. JLPR2
3:54 PM AST on Junio 14, 2008
well lol look at this satellite =P

you would say wow its raining in Puerto Rico, Well ... no =P
Look at the radar
lol satellites seem to exaggerate a little bit =P
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267. redrobin
2:51 PM CDT on June 14, 2008
258. TexasGulf 1:44 PM CDT on June 14, 2008
I watched the Weather Channel today for some reason. Dave Schwartz and some other anchor were trying to tell us the news about Iowa. Normally, Dave Schwartz will get a smug "I know more than you know" look on his face and then tell you something obvious... like what a "levee" is.

The Weather Channel reporters were standing in 1" of water and doing some sort of ooompa-loompa dance while explaining about their surroundings. Perhaps they can be taught the art of the simple gesture. It doesn't take both arms and bending at the knees with a head-bob to mean "look around". At least they are getting exercise.

Worst of all... they mentioned this flooding being another Katrina at least 3-times in 10-minutes. Does everything have to be potentially "another Katrina"? That gets annoying.

Why don't we just simplify things. From here on out.... all storms are to be called Katrina. That would pretty much cover it. The weather channel would be right about each incident being "another Katrina". :>)
Action: | Ignore User



I felt the same way when TX was saying the same thing about everything that meant some rain was an Alison. Of course we really have not had a rain event in years that would even get close to that. But I do know what you mean.
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266. Drakoen
7:34 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
Heres a good satellite loop. I'm not expecting any significant development out of the wave given the climatology and lack of model support.
Link
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265. JLPR
3:27 PM AST on Junio 14, 2008
umm interesting wave
is this the wave the GFS wanted to develop?
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264. Drakoen
7:22 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
Using surface data wind vectors to support the placement of the wave axis. Data would suggest a sharp low level inverted V signature which is also supported by the Cimms upper level divergence and surface convergence.
Photobucket
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263. Drakoen
7:16 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
The ECMWF 12z is showing low pressure system tracking into the CATL and then showing a large region of disturbed weather in the Caribbean at the end of the run.
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262. Drakoen
7:10 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
261. Weather456 7:06 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
251. Drakoen 1:59 PM AST on June 14, 2008

knew it.


Yea the cimms data and GFS products supported an AEW.
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261. Weather456
3:04 PM AST on June 14, 2008
251. Drakoen 1:59 PM AST on June 14, 2008

knew it.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
260. all4hurricanes
6:52 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
Yeah hurricane Hattie moved Belize City further inland and what was left was called Hattieville Hattie had a huge impact on Belize
Member Since: March 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2373
259. nash28
6:45 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
Yeah, I know what you mean. Katrina was horrendous for scores of people, no doubt about it. But, it's not the only hurricane to ruin cities.
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258. TexasGulf
6:35 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
I watched the Weather Channel today for some reason. Dave Schwartz and some other anchor were trying to tell us the news about Iowa. Normally, Dave Schwartz will get a smug "I know more than you know" look on his face and then tell you something obvious... like what a "levee" is.

The Weather Channel reporters were standing in 1" of water and doing some sort of ooompa-loompa dance while explaining about their surroundings. Perhaps they can be taught the art of the simple gesture. It doesn't take both arms and bending at the knees with a head-bob to mean "look around". At least they are getting exercise.

Worst of all... they mentioned this flooding being another Katrina at least 3-times in 10-minutes. Does everything have to be potentially "another Katrina"? That gets annoying.

Why don't we just simplify things. From here on out.... all storms are to be called Katrina. That would pretty much cover it. The weather channel would be right about each incident being "another Katrina". :>)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
257. all4hurricanes
6:26 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
I have a short attention span if someone doesn't post in 4 minutes I get annoyed I would like it more if someone posted and ignored me. Sorry if this sounds rude
Member Since: March 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2373
256. all4hurricanes
6:21 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
Is that a tornado or a hurricane !!!
Member Since: March 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2373
255. listenerVT
2:19 PM EDT on June 14, 2008
Iowa Tornado image from NewsDay:
http://www.newsday.com/media/photo/2008-06/39960765.jpg

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254. all4hurricanes
6:14 PM GMT on June 14, 2008

shear looks favorable I don't see why this wouldn't develop if this was to form I think it would move into the Caribbean and weaken in the presance of shear. than move northward into puerto rico then hit a saddle point where it could go ouut to sea or move towards florida and restrengthen this probably won't happen but I think its good for a kid
Member Since: March 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2373
253. Michfan
5:59 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
My prayers go out to everyone in Iowa. Lets hope FEMA doesn't screw this one up.
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252. all4hurricanes
6:11 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
That wave already looks like a tropical storm maybe we will get Bertha pretty soon
Member Since: March 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2373
251. Drakoen
5:59 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
..ITCZ...

ITCZ AXIS IS CENTERED ALONG 8N13W 9N25W 8N30W 4N42W 2N50W. A
CLUSTER OF MODERATE TO STRONG CONVECTION EMERGED FROM AFRICA
THIS MORNING. IT MAY BE ASSOCIATED WITH A NEW TROPICAL WAVE.
HOWEVER...AWAITING NEW DATA FOR MORE EVIDENCE.
THIS CONVECTIVE
ACTIVITY IS NOTED WITHIN 50 NM EITHER SIDE OF A LINE FROM 9N14W
TO 8N17W.
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250. KarenRei
5:44 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
In case anyone is curious as to what it's like in Iowa City, here are some pictures and videos I took yesterday when there were still three more feet to go (going with the 33-foot peak figure). A sample:





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248. rainraingoaway
5:06 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
Whew! Practice over...recital tonight....

Wanted to say a big THANK YOU to patrap for acknowledging Flag Day.

Thanks to any current/past military in here as well.
Member Since: August 19, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 273
247. pearlandaggie
4:56 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
shear in the area may allow development...

Member Since: September 14, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 3963
246. Skyepony (Mod)
4:52 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
They still have an invest floater in BOC. They put a floater over the NC fires too. Hope this is a new trend, use the floaters for anything interesting...
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245. pearlandaggie
4:53 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
242. amen! and "dontstopthinking"! :)
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244. pearlandaggie
4:51 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
SSTs in that area....


anomalies...
Member Since: September 14, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 3963
243. Skyepony (Mod)
4:46 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
WunderMap of midwest flooding.
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242. cantstopthinking
4:42 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
I don’t understand! why aren’t people in Cedar Rapids waiting for the military to pluck them off their rooftops. All I see on TV is people working hard making temporary levees with sand bags. Oh ya! thats right 2nd Term Mayor Ray Nagin is not there to lend his assistance. See what leadership and a strong compassionate community can get done.

Political Correctness is destroying America!!!
.
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241. weatherblog
4:49 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
93E?...
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240. pearlandaggie
4:45 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
fairly strong convection in the EPac...

Member Since: September 14, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 3963
239. weatherblog
4:36 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
I agree fully with 234, 235, 237.

They look impressive on Africa, but then they usually dissipate once off land. And, even though it is June (and there could be development), there is just too much dust right now. We gotta wait a couple more weeks to start looking for some real development, as I wouldn't be suprised at all to see some long-tracked storms in July...aka Dennis/Emily/Bertha/1933 storm, but all that would depend on how favorable shear/dust remains in the Central Atlantic and Caribbean...which currently it is not.
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238. pearlandaggie
4:36 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
slow in here today! ;)
Member Since: September 14, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 3963
237. GainesvilleGator
4:24 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
Cape Verde Season usually doesn't start until around August 1st. We could see something a week or so earlier this year. I wouldn't expect anything to develop off of Africa for at least a month.
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236. CaneAddict
4:14 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
235. eye 4:08 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
also, SST are above normal right off Africa, then fall slightly below normal about halfway between Africa and SA....so they look good right off, then poof out once they hit the cooler SSTs


Also notice the dry air around surrounding the wave.


Although you havent done anything yet, After last year when you downcasted every little thing in the tropics, I have NO faith in anything you have to say and i may do what im sure everyone else on this blog has done, Add you to my ignore list, your going poof like you claim this blob will, bye bye!
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235. eye
4:07 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
also, SST are above normal right off Africa, then fall slightly below normal about halfway between Africa and SA....so they look good right off, then poof out once they hit the cooler SSTs


Also notice the dry air around surrounding the wave.
Member Since: August 21, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 147
234. eye
4:04 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
how many documented systems have formed right off of Africa in Mid June? There have been far more impressive waves the past week or or so that have come off and done nothing.

Yes, it is the only game in town right now.
Member Since: August 21, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 147
233. Drakoen
3:59 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
Satellite image of Africa:
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232. CaneAddict
3:57 PM GMT on June 14, 2008

229. eye 3:53 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
too early to look off Africa, if it was late July or after yeah.


Uh just because climatology does not favor it, development can still happen if conditions favor it such as now.
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231. WPBHurricane05
11:58 AM EDT on June 14, 2008
too early to look off Africa, if it was late July or after yeah.

Not much else to watch.
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230. Weather456
11:51 AM AST on June 14, 2008
228. Drakoen 11:49 AM AST on June 14, 2008 Hide this comment.
I think we should watch this African easterly wave as the GFS 12z run shows some high levels of 850mb vorticity maximum developing along the wave axis possibly even a surface low forming.


also, favorable shear and humidity and SSTs
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076

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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.