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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180. HIEXPRESS
11:18 PM EDT on June 13, 2008
At the 725mb level, it's 92L
Anyone ballooning over the BOC should take appropriate precautions.
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179. Skyepony (Mod)
3:04 AM GMT on June 14, 2008
BenRMac~ Earlier I had said this is worse than 1993 & then ran across like your saying St Loius south is perhaps not so bad, but yeah should have reiderated north of St Louis is really sad.

TexasGulf~ I agree this 100 - 500 year thing needs rethought. If sediments showed that's the last time it happened before 1993, perhaps areas change more than just have an abnormal amount of rain once every so many centuries.

Taz~ all it says is invest. Not actually 92L.
Nothing on the position & intensity page. We've seen this before, the unoffical invest. They're blob watchin.
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178. moonlightcowboy
10:17 PM CDT on June 13, 2008
2-week blended IR & Passive Microwave (PMW) Rain Accumulation



Heavy green, 375mm = 14.76 inches
Deep yellow, 525mm = 20.67 inches
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
177. guygee
3:13 AM GMT on June 14, 2008
Re: 164. TexasGulf 2:32 AM GMT on June 14, 2008
How can anyone classify 10-12 inches of rain over a 10-day period as a once-in-500-year event?

The USGS has a brief FAQ with references on this topic.
What is a recurrence interval?
Does a 100-year storm always cause a 100-year flood?
Can two "100-year floods" occur within several years or even within the same year?
How can the same streamflow be a 100-year flood in one location and only a 50-year flood at another?
How is peak flow determined?

According to todays reports, Iowa City is making evacuation plans for a 500-year flood event based on streamflow and water level measurements and predictions made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

Iowa City: 500-Year Flood Plain Plan for Evacuation
By Becky Ogann

Story Updated: Jun 13, 2008 at 2:01 PM CDT
IOWA CITY - Army Corps of Engineers staff informed Iowa City staff Friday morning, June 13, that the current water level of the Coralville Reservoir is 715.9 feet, 3.9 feet over the spillway. The level in the Reservoir is expected to peak at 717.7 at midnight on June 16th. Inflows to the Reservoir are peaking today, Friday, June 13, with an estimated 50,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) inflow. Possible maximum flow expected during this flood event in the Iowa City area is 44,000 cfs, expected late Monday, June 16. This correlates to an additional 4-1/2 to 5 feet of additional water. Additional rain may add to and delay the peak. The maximum flow experience in 1993 was 28,200 cfs. The flood of 2008 is now anticipated to be near or exceed a 500-year flood event.

URGENT NOTICE TO RESIDENTS ALREADY AFFECTED BY FLOOD AND TO THOSE ADJACENT TO THE FLOODPLAIN

The flood of 2008 has now exceeded water levels experienced in the flood of 1993. Properties adjoining those directly affected in 1993 are now vulnerable to inundation. Owners of property in the 500-year floodplain should be aware of the imminent flooding of their property and make plans for evacuation now. Click HERE for the map of the 500-year floodplain.
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176. JLPR
11:14 PM AST on Junio 13, 2008
Taz the NHC seems to think it looks interesting so there is a floater on it but it isn't 92L, yet =P
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 5223
175. ajcamsmom2
10:08 PM CDT on June 13, 2008
171. katadman 9:58 PM CDT on June 13, 2008
If all this flooding in Iowa starts making its way down here to Louisiana...well, we may have one heck of a summer...that's all I can say...
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174. HIEXPRESS
11:10 PM EDT on June 13, 2008
Hey just in for a minute. Weather cooperated & the Bass bite turned on big time today.

157. HurrikanEB 9:49 PM EDT
Does anyone know if it is possible to retrieve watches or warnings that were issued 3 days ago?

http://www.spc.noaa.gov/archive/

On the rain thing, I am thinking a once in 100 year rain event at a certain location is different than a once in 100 year flood as points that did not get as much rain, but are near points that did, could still flood. I was out in Iowa in '93. I know they are having a hard time of it.

That new WU River data interface is KILLER. I'll use it a LOT.
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173. moonlightcowboy
10:02 PM CDT on June 13, 2008
Broad area of rotation out at 23n,93w; but, no real organized convection there. More convection to the seast towards the Yucatan.

IR LOOP
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
172. katadman
3:03 AM GMT on June 14, 2008
Good night, y'all.
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171. katadman
2:57 AM GMT on June 14, 2008
In the spring of 1981, we had two 100 year floods exactly seven days apart in Austin.
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170. TexasGulf
2:50 AM GMT on June 14, 2008
Some of the buildings at K-state that got hit, but not damaged, are a little unique.

You read on the news that the engineering and sciences buildings were hit... but the only damage you really hear about to those buildings was the wind debris lab.

The older engineering and science buildings are 2-3 story structures built of solid limestone blocks. The old limestone quarrys are on the outskirts of Manhattan, Ks and the older campus buildings were made of solid 16" x 8" x 8" limestone blocks. The floors and interior walls are all either filled cinder block, brick or reinforced concrete. The ceilings are all concrete slab and beam.

It would take quite a storm to level the Civil / Agricultural / Architectural engineering building... or some of the other older buildings in that vicinity of campus. Newer construction is not so well built, however.
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169. Tazmanian
7:43 PM PDT on June 13, 2008
well the SDD site says we have 92L or what was 92L

here is the the photo on what the SDD site says 92L





Link


Link

you think the navy site will do the same thing ???
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168. atmoaggie
2:44 AM GMT on June 14, 2008
I've got ties to the flooding, in a way. I went on a 10 week internship under a Chem Engineering Prof at UIowa. Most of the buildings I hung out in there have been evacuated and are likely to flood.

Iowa City is a very neat town, btw. I'd recommend a visit if you are driving through the area. Stay over night in a bed and breakfast and soak up a little of the town. 10 weeks with no car, but wasn't bored and didn't really miss the freedom of driving.

If we had a nado close enough to look at, my wife would probably wrestle me to the ground and pin me down...or at least try to.

18-month-old needs pop to put him to sleep. G/N
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167. katadman
2:42 AM GMT on June 14, 2008
Hey, Flood, wazzup?
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166. TexasGulf
2:35 AM GMT on June 14, 2008
I called up to Bonner Springs, Kansas last night to talk to my brother and tell him about the tornado warning.

He came up from the basement to answer the telephone and got to watch about 60-mph winds blow the furniture off his back deck. The tornado was reported about 20-25 blocks from his area heading their direction... but his wife wouldn't let him go outside and watch it.

This has been some weather year. I went to K-State and know several of the buildings that got hit there. The school where my Sister-in-law's brother teaches in Manhattan, Ks. was leveled. That river valley rarely ever gets tornadoes.
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165. atmoaggie
2:34 AM GMT on June 14, 2008
In Houston, 1" of rain per hour for 10-hours will cause flooding, but it is a once per 10-year storm. How in the world is a 1" per Day storm considered a 500-year event?

Dude, the average rainfall there is nothing like what you or I are used to. Here in SE LA and in eastern TX, 12 inches over 2 days is a non-event. There, it would potentially be half a year's worth. The drainage systems (mostly natural) haven't the capacity to move that much water.

I completely agree on the 100 and 500 year classifications. A bit of false security in my mind.
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164. TexasGulf
2:22 AM GMT on June 14, 2008
How can anyone classify 10-12 inches of rain over a 10-day period as a once-in-500-year event?

I understand that the flooding is a terrible circumstance, but averaging 1 inch to 1.5 inches of rain per day for 10-days straight probably happens in that region every 25-years or possibly every 50-years.

The designation of areas as a 100-year floodplain or a 500-year flood plain can make us feel secure. However, if we seem to have a 100-year flood every 15-years (????) what good does that label do?

In Houston, 1" of rain per hour for 10-hours will cause flooding, but it is a once per 10-year storm. How in the world is a 1" per Day storm considered a 500-year event?
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163. BenRMac
2:22 AM GMT on June 14, 2008
153. Skyepony

Most of the towns on the Mississippi are actually expecting equal crests to the 1993 flood, from mid-Iowa nearly all the way to St. Louis. Towns like Quincy, Hannibal, Keokouk, and others are facing some of the same devastation as Cedar Rapids.
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162. atmoaggie
2:15 AM GMT on June 14, 2008
College Station and Austin have as much in common as Rush and Hilary.
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161. atmoaggie
2:14 AM GMT on June 14, 2008
Aggies and Longhorns can too

WHAT?!? I am going to need to read back a little, I see.
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160. moonlightcowboy
9:04 PM CDT on June 13, 2008
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
159. Floodman
1:59 AM GMT on June 14, 2008
157. HurrikanEB

I'm not sure...that's a very good question
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158. Floodman
1:51 AM GMT on June 14, 2008
155. rainraingoaway

Rain, if Mizzoorah Tigers and Longhorns can co exist peacefully, Aggies and Longhorns can too...I think...LOL
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157. HurrikanEB
1:45 AM GMT on June 14, 2008
Hello, how is everyone?

Does anyone know if it is possible to retrieve watches or warnings that were issued 3 days ago?
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155. rainraingoaway
12:53 AM GMT on June 14, 2008
Evening all. Dropped in for the latest. Oh my, there's AGGIES in here!! ;)

If you're in Pearland, you're my neighbor to the north of me. I suppose Longhorn's and Aggies can live peacefully!

Amazing photos/stories from Iowa. So very sad.

Member Since: August 19, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 273
154. Skyepony (Mod)
12:49 AM GMT on June 14, 2008
The upper level cyclone in the gulf looks (WV) like it split in two & lost what little bit of organization it had. The bigger 1/2 looks to be Mexico bound (like they need it). I'd say it is borderline for even blob title status.
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153. Skyepony (Mod)
12:27 AM GMT on June 14, 2008
Surfmom~ Slummed the news wire a little. Farmers were in the bind of is this cheap? Should we buy or sell? With farmers years are determined on how you hedged the corn futures. Though this cost is gonna hurt anyone feeding livestock. Price of hay has been getting bad enough. The horse industry around here has already been hit, wonder what this will do.

One farmer thought what we are calling expensive food in the grocery this week, is gonna look cheap in not too long, since most foods these days have some property of corn in them.


It was a historic day at the Chicago Board of Trade Wednesday, with corn futures in all contracts above the $7/bushel mark. Most corn, wheat, oat, and soybean contracts were locked the daily limit up.

CME Group this afternoon announced that expanded trading limits will be in effect for Thursday, June 12. The trading limit on corn is now 45 cents; wheat, 90 cents; oats, 30 cents; and soybeans, $1.05.

The volatile trade is being blamed on the continuing wet weather across the Midwest, causing massive flooding and crop damage.



Floodwaters inundated about 100 city blocks of Cedar Rapids, Iowa's second-largest city with 200,000 residents. Rescuers in boats picked up people who were stranded or had had ignored warnings to leave.

Crop losses could spur price rises for everything from food to fuels, like corn-based ethanol, and play into growing fears of inflation threatening the already battered economy.

The flooding led authorities to close the upper Mississippi River to barge traffic, and commerce on a 300-mile stretch of the most important waterway may be shut down for weeks.


Flooding has also swamped parts of Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas and Indiana. Officials in Indiana have reported three flood-related deaths.

It sounds like it maybe less worse than 1993 as you go south, like Missouri south.
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152. Weather456
8:30 PM AST on June 13, 2008
145. OUSHAWN 7:44 PM AST on June 13, 2008
456...I hate to differ but our local met here in Houston said the ULL is going to move to the SW into southern Mexico.


I just check the upper level forecast....it should move SW as u just mentioned. I was basing the movement on deep layer flow but it seems this upper low is too shallow and thus SW movement into Mexico expected due to the influence of an upper level high over Northern Mexico.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
151. InTheCone
8:20 PM EDT on June 13, 2008
Way to go cchs!!

Glad you had a great time!! Looking forward to your blog!

I know Adrian has been there alot and knows a bunch of the folks there, but don't know if he's worked there.

back to lurking.......
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150. Skyepony (Mod)
12:15 AM GMT on June 14, 2008
This is much worse than 1993, which was described as a 500 year flood. I've been taken back by pictures even uploaded to here. Towns under water. I saw one lastnight where a several hundred acre lake wrecked it's banks & then some & drained into a river. I gotta agree about this being a mindboggling expensive year for damage because of this.
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149. surfmom
12:21 AM GMT on June 14, 2008
i am really concerned as how this flooding will affect the farmers. they are already feeling the diesel costs,now crop failures on top of that? Then comes my grocery bill. Makes for precarious times. The masses are usually quiet as long as they have full bellies -- weather is having an economic and probably social impact right before our eyes.
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148. surfmom
12:14 AM GMT on June 14, 2008
cchs glad you had a wonderful trip, sounded like you were in your glory!
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147. MNTornado
6:48 PM CDT on June 13, 2008
As some one who has lived in Cedar Rapid, IA I have to say that this is the worst flooding that I've seen or heard of. I have seen both the 1965 and 1993 flood up close. This flooding in Iowa brings back memories of the 1993 flood which I checked on last night. It is recorded as the worst flood in U.S. history costing 20 billion dollars in damages. I have a feeling that this is going to end up being one of the most costly years in history because of all the flooding.
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146. OUSHAWN
11:47 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
I don't think it matters because looks like it is pretty much falling apart now anyway...lol.
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145. OUSHAWN
11:41 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
456...I hate to differ but our local met here in Houston said the ULL is going to move to the SW into southern Mexico.
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144. Weather456
7:36 PM AST on June 13, 2008
138. DDR 7:29 PM AST on June 13, 2008
Hey weather456 yes im from Trinidad,did you get any rain last night?I got some early this morning.I've seen 3 or 4 trini's posting on the blog recently and alot of bajans.


We got last night, some this morning and a thundershower this afternoon.

141. pearlandaggie 7:34 PM AST on June 13, 2008
well, folks...i'm out. i might be back later.

456, you're still my hero! LOL


Lol...I wudnt say hero....but its how u see it. =)
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
143. cchsweatherman
11:37 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
Good afternoon all! Just got done with my first ever visit at the NHC/Miami NWS. I'll create a blog with pictures I took there sometime this weekend and to share my incredible experience. It was literally breath-taking.

By the way, Adrian (hurricane23), did you work at the NHC? In talking with some people there, they did mention an Adrian that used to work at the NHC.
Member Since: April 14, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 5169
142. medicroc
11:36 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
Is the flooding in Iowa greater than it was in 1993/1994. Sorry, can't remember which year. Does anyone know?
By about 10 feet
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141. pearlandaggie
11:34 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
well, folks...i'm out. i might be back later.

456, you're still my hero! LOL
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140. pearlandaggie
11:32 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
bajan....now there's a term i've never heard before...what else would one call them? LOL
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139. catfuraplenty
11:28 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
Is the flooding in Iowa greater than it was in 1993/1994. Sorry, can't remember which year. Does anyone know?
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138. DDR
11:25 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
Hey weather456 yes im from Trinidad,did you get any rain last night?I got some early this morning.I've seen 3 or 4 trini's posting on the blog recently and alot of Barbadians.
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137. pearlandaggie
11:27 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
456, i figured you'd take exception with "mon"! LOL
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136. Weather456
7:24 PM AST on June 13, 2008
131. pearlandaggie 7:20 PM AST on June 13, 2008
129. did you do that right?

i think it should be, "you frum de islands, mon?"

lol


lol....it varies from island to island. We dont normally say "mon" here...more like Jamaica. But yea...ur on the right track.

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
135. pearlandaggie
11:24 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
456, you da man! i've come to view the wave forecasts with distrust! you've bolstered my confidence! :)
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134. Weather456
7:19 PM AST on June 13, 2008
130. pearlandaggie 7:19 PM AST on June 13, 2008
456, thanks again! i'm kind of interested because i would like to go offshore on sunday..have a sneaking feeling that our globular friend will ruin my opportunity!


Showers and cloud cover should be limited.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
133. pearlandaggie
11:20 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
132. isn't it sad that we don't do it more often? :(
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132. aardan
6:16 PM EST on June 13, 2008
It's interesting how people work together so much better than they do otherwise when natural disasters occur or threaten.
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131. pearlandaggie
11:19 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
129. did you do that right?

i think it should be, "you frum de islands, mon?"

lol
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130. pearlandaggie
11:18 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
456, thanks again! i'm kind of interested because i would like to go offshore on sunday..have a sneaking feeling that our globular friend will ruin my opportunity!
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.