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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80. weatherblog
8:52 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
Caneaddict, I'm talking about subtropical development... You're right though; it would take longer for it to become fully tropical.
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79. weathermanwannabe
4:39 PM EDT on June 13, 2008
Well, I'm out until Monday but everyone have a Great Weekend (just starting to get some pop-up showers about to hit Tallahassee so I'm going to hit the road before the rain starts....Great for my new grass seedlings)........WW
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78. Weather456
4:36 PM AST on June 13, 2008
75. STORMTTOP 4:20 PM AST on June 13, 2008
The low in the GOM looks to headed toward Texas.


Correct, according to the deep layer steering flow.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
77. Weather456
4:30 PM AST on June 13, 2008
I'll be watching the EATL next thursday for possible development. Low SAL, win shear and marginal SSTs will create a favorable enviroment for the emergence of a tropical wave currently over Africa. Waves are affected by duirnal variations. Currently, nice influx of mositure over the continent, along with with strong low level vertical shear and K-Index will make unstable and favorable enviroment for the deelopment of thunderstorms.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
76. weathermanwannabe
4:24 PM EDT on June 13, 2008
75. STORMTTOP 4:20 PM EDT on June 13, 2008 Sorry;....I was looking at the area around 95W - 22N (possible "center" area?) which looks to me like it is moving to the WSW..........
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75. STORMTTOP
8:18 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
The low in the GOM looks to headed toward Texas.
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74. weathermanwannabe
4:15 PM EDT on June 13, 2008
For their TWD, NHC looks closely at surface pressures and sattelite presentation...This BOC area will probably not have time to develop (make it to the surface) and organize because of the proximity to land given it's current track towards Mexico.........
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73. Gothicus
8:19 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
Small world, Tejano. I'm from Hurricane, too. Looks like we might get some strong storms later this evening. Muggy as heck now.
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72. CaneAddict
8:12 PM GMT on June 13, 2008

69. weatherblog 7:53 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
BOC disturbance is suprisingly looking good. I don't think it needs much more before the NHC upgrades it to a tropical depression. All it needs is some more convection in the center, some persistance, and proof of a suface low.
Action: | Ignore User


I have to respectfully disagree, That disturbance looks rather disorganized if looking for a sign of tropical development...also there is still not much vorticity at the surface, Development would be slow to occur if any which is the case with many ULL's trying to develop.

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71. weathermanwannabe
4:08 PM EDT on June 13, 2008
68. NOWCAST 3:52 PM EDT on June 13, 2008

I don't see a circulation on the visible loop; it does look rather "disorganized" as per NHC right now (to me) on the vis loop..
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70. Weather456
3:45 PM AST on June 13, 2008
66. IKE 3:38 PM AST on June 13, 2008
60. Weather456 2:33 PM CDT on June 13, 2008
I expect an interesting set up to the tropics in the last full week of June....around the summer solstice.

Is it what the 12Z ECMWF is seeing?.....

In the Caribbean?

Link


Yea and the GFS, CMC and ECMWF developing a wave in the TRP ATL.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
69. weatherblog
7:50 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
BOC disturbance is suprisingly looking good. I don't think it needs much more before the NHC upgrades it to a tropical depression. All it needs is some more convection in the center, some persistance, and proof of a suface low.
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68. NOWCAST
7:49 PM GMT on June 13, 2008


Low to mid level circulation here. Agree?
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67. NOWCAST
7:41 PM GMT on June 13, 2008


Possible invest here soon.
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66. IKE
2:36 PM CDT on June 13, 2008
60. Weather456 2:33 PM CDT on June 13, 2008
I expect an interesting set up to the tropics in the last full week of June....around the summer solstice.


Is it what the 12Z ECMWF is seeing?.....

In the Caribbean?

Link
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
65. NEwxguy
7:34 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
can we put those pics in a link,really slowing things down as they download
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64. pearlandaggie
7:32 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
wow...several posts already deleted on this fresh of a blog...guess i missed it! :)
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63. weathermanwannabe
3:33 PM EDT on June 13, 2008
....And for the "younger" folks, and ladies, on the Blog, make sure you don't forget your own fathers and husbands this weekend...My Wife already called and I'm getting my favorite roast on Sunday..........Yum.......
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62. rainraingoaway
1:31 PM CST on June 13, 2008
Nice pics Karen. Ironically, a beautiful rainbow. So so sad for all the people there. Heartwarming to see all pulling together, though. Best wishes and many, many prayers.
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61. weatherblog
7:31 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
I think the circulation is a broad one indeed. But, there is one...
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60. Weather456
3:28 PM AST on June 13, 2008
I expect an interesting set up to the tropics in the last full week of June....around the summer solstice.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
59. groundswell
7:27 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
Quite a burst of convection in the GOM, east of the upper low. Moving north. Don't see rotation though...
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58. KarenRei
7:22 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
For a nice collection of photos from Cedar Rapids and Iowa City:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/6/13/101636/281/684/535293

Here are a couple shots I took when I was sandbagging on Monday and Tuesday (I haven't sandbagged since because I messed up my arms):






I'll get some pictures of the flooding today. All those areas you see sandbagging at in the above photos are now underwater. I have my doubts as to whether the bags are high enough.
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57. medicroc
7:21 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
Yep.. I read they put the cars on the bridge loaded with gravel to keep it from floating away. The river took it all.
If I recall correctly one of the main reasons most bridges are washed away during floods is that the turbulent waters undermine the ground beneath which the bridge pilings are sunk into. So I'm not suprised the bridge in question was washed away even with all that weight applied to it
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56. kmanislander
7:21 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
Keeper,

Shear is low over the BOC so what's left is whether it gets to the surface before going ashore.
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55. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
7:13 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
yeah kman could become the friday night special in short order
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54. weathermanwannabe
3:08 PM EDT on June 13, 2008
Hey Folks, and, thanks Dr. M; yesterday evening, and now today, was a good lesson for the need to have sustained "persistence" as one of the supporting eventual tropical depression formation......That "hell of a good looking Blob" last night over the Lesser Antilles is gone today (a victim of shear to the North perhaps?) but it "looked" as good at one point as some TS I've seen in the past.....Anyway, love your analysis Storm on the current upper lever "cyclone" in the SW GOM (not my words but NHC)........While the models do not show any pending development, if the low remains over water over the next few days, and, it can work it's way down to the surface (like the comment from Kman) maybe we might have something to look at...But, alas, if it makes it's way over land, then, it may go poof (guess that is what NHC is seeing with their "no dev expected nxt. 48 hours" at 2:00)

In any event (and sorry for the long vent; I was tied up in a very stressful work situation this AM and this Blob helps me unwind and relieve stress), if nothing significant happens later this afternoon, then, I want to wish all the Fathers out there a very happy Father's Day this weekend........WW
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53. kmanislander
7:14 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
Here is a good image showing the closed low in the upper atmosphere over the BOC

Link
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52. Drakoen
7:14 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
The second image is 2008. [edited]
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51. Drakoen
7:12 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
2004 A/B High Mean (30 day)



2008 A/B High Mean (30 day)



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50. roxycc
7:06 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
I'm in Corpus and trust me i would not complain about a TD, we need the rain, and i could use a day off work.
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49. kmanislander
6:59 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
BOC sustained winds of 23 knots with gusts of 27.

Very nasty out there. If the low works it's way to the surface it would not take much to get classified a TD in short order. All that's missing is the surface low.
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48. rainraingoaway
12:54 PM CST on June 13, 2008
Afternoon all. Thanks Dr. M!

Kibkaos I am south of Houston so I am blob watching, too. (As if I wouldn't be if I didn't live here)

Thanks for all the updates all. Like your blog StormW. Nice pics too. Congrats. Thanks to all in here who honestly help us "fans" learn more of the science. Very interesting.
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47. Floodman
6:54 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
41. Thundercloud01221991

Actually, this morning it was labeled "Invest"; no numeric identifier probably means it hasn't been labeled officially as yet
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
46. guygee
6:54 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
MODIS June 12 Image of the Day

"Heavy rains in early June 2008 soaked the U.S. Midwest, leaving swollen rivers in their wake. By June 10, 2008, the National Weather Service had issued flood warnings for numerous counties throughout Indiana and Illinois. The lower Wabash, White, and East Fork White watersheds had all been affected by the deluge, according to National Weather Service bulletins. On June 10, 2008, CBS News reported that authorities blamed the floods for 15 deaths."

"The MODIS on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured the main image on June 8, 2008. If you move your mouse over it, you will see the same scene on May 28, 2008. These images use infrared and visible light to enhance the contrast between land and water. In these images, vegetation appears bright green, bare ground looks pinkish-tan, clouds look blue-white, and water appears bright blue. The Embarras, Wabash, White, and East Fork White Rivers are all swollen from the heavy rains."
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45. Patrap
1:54 PM CDT on June 13, 2008
GOES WV Loop of Tropical Basin Link
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44. NEwxguy
6:51 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
looks like the ohio valleys turn for storms today,quite a line moving through indiana right now
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43. Patrap
1:52 PM CDT on June 13, 2008
GOES-12 IR Loop GOM Link
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42. Drakoen
6:49 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
Mexican radars:
Link
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41. Thundercloud01221991
6:46 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
NHC has labeled it an invest on there floaters
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40. STORMTTOP
6:45 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
The GOM already has the worlds largest "dead zones" in it due to inland runoff containing agricultural and other industry chemicals.
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39. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
6:32 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
relocating prev loc 93.2w/22.3n
93.5w/21.9n
mark current 94w/21.3n invest
movement .8w/1.0s ssw
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38. Floodman
6:22 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
30. fireflymom

The '93 floods dropped the salinity (on average...geez, please don't ask for a specific area) to around 35 PPM from 36.4 PPM; it only took 18 months for the salinity to bounce back. Obviously, the areas around the delta of the Mississippi suffered the worst loss in salinity and took the longest time to recover; the GOM is slightly more saline than the east coast ATL, for example, where the salinity is an average of 34 PPM around Nova Scotia, and an even 36 around the tip of Florida. (Note that these salinity numbers are measured at 100 meters)

This flooding appears, at least in Iowa, to surpass the 1993 floods; you can certainly expect some drop in salinity and most likely greater than that in 1993; as for what impact that will have on tropical weather is an open supposition at this point, though the guys on here (Drak, StormW, Weather456 or jphurricane) will ikely be more aware of data on salintiy and it's effect on tropical systems...

The biggest concern with a flood event like this, from an oceanographic standpoint is the effect of the toxic chemicals that are transported down the rivers to the GOMEX that wouldn't normally make it into the rivers, at least in the amounts that are certainly being dumped right now...
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
37. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
6:26 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
ffm maybe some localize inter costal cooling nuttin more as it moves further offshore it sinks and forces warmer water to the surface
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36. msphar
6:19 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
30 FFMom Let'me guess. GW Dilution in GOM
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35. sporteguy03
6:27 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
Adrian take shelter h23
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34. Tejano72
6:20 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
Funny naviguesser! I'm from Hurricane, WV and of course, I've got a lot of cousins in "Kenucky".
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33. Ldog74
6:09 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
28.
lol nice catch
Member Since: June 11, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 165
32. ErikMia
6:09 PM GMT on June 13, 2008

The National Weather Service in Miami has issued a

* Tornado Warning for...
extreme northeastern Miami-Dade County in South Florida.

* Until 215 PM EDT

* at 158 PM EDT... National Weather Service Doppler radar was tracking
a tornado near Miami Beach... moving northwest at 11 mph.
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31. Weather456
2:00 PM AST on June 13, 2008
posted an update to the tropics on my blog

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
30. fireflymom
6:02 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
All that fresh water going down stream to the GOM may have an effect on the weather patterns. Anyone have some input on that?
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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.