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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780. GeoffreyWPB
7:59 PM EDT on June 15, 2008
Geez Cane...I said I joined..not followed the tropics that long ago...I always read your posts and respect them.
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779. GeoffreyWPB
7:55 PM EDT on June 15, 2008
Thanks nrtiwlnvragn..So I guess basically it means...storms will form inalnd and move to the east coast.
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778. CaneAddict
11:56 PM GMT on June 15, 2008

770. GeoffreyWPB 11:46 PM GMT on June 15, 2008
I joined mid-last season...and I have had my toe bitten off more times than I like....but I have to admit...I was pretty accurate about the storms that made it to central Atlantic and their impact on the U.S....if any.


Wow.

Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 2151
777. STORMTTOP
11:54 PM GMT on June 15, 2008
I Need this storm, I Needs it! My Precious!
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776. nrtiwlnvragn
7:54 PM EDT on June 15, 2008
745. GeoffreyWPB

Miami Area Forecast Discussion
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775. GeoffreyWPB
7:50 PM EDT on June 15, 2008
The waves coming off the African Coast have been impressive as of late...but SST's, Shear further out, Upper Level Winds...are just not codusive right now. Not an expert here...but been following the tropics for a long time.
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774. GeoffreyWPB
7:49 PM EDT on June 15, 2008
Have a Great Pearland...!!!
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773. plywoodstatenative
11:47 PM GMT on June 15, 2008
wpb, then whats your feeling on this one. seems to survive when it shouldnt
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772. hurricane23
7:45 PM EDT on June 15, 2008
Though impressive for this early the wave around 7-8 N is currently not worthy of an invest classification as of right now.Convection is already on the decrease somewhat which comes as no surprise.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
771. pearlandaggie
11:43 PM GMT on June 15, 2008
alright, folks...i'm out...i figured i'd pop in and see what's going on. i'm going to spend the rest of this evening with my family.


have a great Father's Day!

/lurking ON LOL
Member Since: September 14, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 3963
770. GeoffreyWPB
7:42 PM EDT on June 15, 2008
I joined mid-last season...and I have had my toe bitten off more times than I like....but I have to admit...I was pretty accurate about the storms that made it to central Atlantic and their impact on the U.S....if any.
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769. plywoodstatenative
11:44 PM GMT on June 15, 2008
pearl, just call me the lumber nut. its easier or PSN
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768. plywoodstatenative
11:42 PM GMT on June 15, 2008
storm, I think the NHC is throwing caution to the wind by not saying anything. If we remember how in the past years they have called things invests and such and then had those things disappear. so I think they are being safe right now
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766. pearlandaggie
11:42 PM GMT on June 15, 2008
764. it's cool...i just wanted to make sure what i said wasn't misunderstood.
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765. pearlandaggie
11:41 PM GMT on June 15, 2008
Geoff, i've been a lurker for a long time...finally decided to stick my toe in the water, so to speak! :)
Member Since: September 14, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 3963
764. plywoodstatenative
11:40 PM GMT on June 15, 2008
pearl, wasnt you. if you scroll behind you. you will see why I responded.
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763. GeoffreyWPB
7:39 PM EDT on June 15, 2008
Is this your first season on here pearland?
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762. stormdude77
7:39 PM AST on June 15, 2008
The NHC didn't mention nothing in the 8PM TWO. You were right, Terra...LOL
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761. pearlandaggie
11:37 PM GMT on June 15, 2008
754. i hope i didn't set you off, man! i was merely commenting on how i would be completely happy if the wave was decimated by shear...that's all. i'm not saying it's going to happen...i was just saying i'd be okay if that happened! :)
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760. GeoffreyWPB
7:37 PM EDT on June 15, 2008
2005 Blast from the Past...

Posted by: JeffMasters, 7:29 AM EDT on June 30, 2005

OK, blink and you'll miss this tropical storm. Tropical Storm Bret formed last night in the Bay of Campeche off Mexico, and is already on its way ashore. By tonight, it should be well inland and not even classifiable as a tropical depression.

Bret is the 2nd troical storm to form in the Atlantic this June, which is an unusual amount of activity for June. Since 1851, there have only been 12 occurrences of two or more tropical storms in the month of June, most recently in 1986. Does this portend an active hurricane season? Well, if we look at the plot of hurricane activity for 1986, we see that although that year had two June tropical cyclones, the rest of the year was well below average, with a total of only 6 tropical cyclones (11 is average). I remember the year well, it was the first year I flew into hurricanes as a member of the Hurricane Hunters. I was excited about doing a lot of flying that year, and my first flight of my career happened in June of that year. I flew into Hurricane Bonnie, a weak category one hurricane that hit Texas. The sight of huge waves crashing into the oil rigs we flew over, all lit up at night by Bonnie's lightning, made for an unforgettable first flight. But unfortunately for me, (and fortunately for the residents of the Atlantic Seaboard) the rest of the season was a dud, and we ended up having to fly down to Puerto Vallarta to chase hurricanes over the Eastern Pacific. In those days, the NOAA hurricane hunters were given 100 - 200 flight hours to use for hurricane research, and if there were no worthy Atlantic storms, we often worked storms off of Mexico in the Eastern Pacific. Actually Puerto Vallarta was not so bad a place to work out of! We stayed at a great beach front hotel (cheap since it was the off-season), and watched huge waves from Hurricane Paine smash down the 10-foot seawall protecting our hotel's swimming pool and push the debris into the pool.

Examination of other Junes reveals that there is no significant correlation between June tropical storm activity and the rest of hurricane season. However, the position and intensity of the Bermuda High and sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic are more typical of what things should be like a month from now. We are already beginning to see strong tropical waves with impressive satellite presentations come off the coast of Africa, and that is unusual for June. In fact, the GFS model takes one of those waves and develops it into a hurricane next week as it sweeps north of the Leeward Islands, past Bermuda around July 6, then out to sea. It will be interesting to see if the GFS model is correct. If so, this would likely be the harbinger of an active hurricane season.
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759. plywoodstatenative
11:38 PM GMT on June 15, 2008
and btw the voice of reason is otherwise known as the red !
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758. plywoodstatenative
11:33 PM GMT on June 15, 2008
JFV, all I care about is that we get something so that those of us in South Fla can have the 4th celebrations. If that thing becomes something huge, then I am going to request a ticket to go hang out with hurricanecrab
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755. plywoodstatenative
11:28 PM GMT on June 15, 2008
Michael, I had been hearing that the Iowa area was due for another round of rain. when will it end for them in that retrosopect
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754. plywoodstatenative
11:26 PM GMT on June 15, 2008
the next person who says that the wave will go poof and its not the time of the season. Need I remind you about 05? For those who are the naysayers in here and those who wishcast, there is no true way to tell unless you have a direct line to mother nature. Other than that lets focus on the season, not naysaying storms.
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751. GeoffreyWPB
7:24 PM EDT on June 15, 2008
Same her Pearland...Although it is interesting to track these things...when they do develope...as they will later in the season...they will cause harm and heartbreak wherever they hit.
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750. pearlandaggie
11:24 PM GMT on June 15, 2008
color-enhanced IR is still available...might be kind of old, though...

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749. TerraNova
7:22 PM EDT on June 15, 2008
746. all4hurricanes 7:22 PM EDT on June 15, 2008
So why isn't the blob an invest I mean it already looks more impressive than Andrea and Lee shear is low and there isn't any extremely dry air in the area


With most possible invests such as these I think they're waiting for it to sustain itself and not go "poof" at least until tomorrow morning. I wonder what the 8 PM TWO will say...i'll bet they won't even mention it.
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748. GeoffreyWPB
7:22 PM EDT on June 15, 2008
Since it is dark over there now...I guess we will have to wait til morning to see what it looks like.
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747. pearlandaggie
11:20 PM GMT on June 15, 2008
Hey, Geoff...well, we certainly don't need a long-track storm this early! i hope it stays ragged!

JFV...haven't had a chance to check out the circulation, but it looked pretty impressive last night.
Member Since: September 14, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 3963
746. all4hurricanes
11:19 PM GMT on June 15, 2008
So why isn't the blob an invest I mean it already looks more impressive than Andrea and Lee shear is low and there isn't any extremely dry air in the area
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745. GeoffreyWPB
7:16 PM EDT on June 15, 2008
Thank you eye...good, simple explanation. I really believe...although I am not an expert...this will not be an issue tomorrow as we chat at the same time....As to a previous ? I asked, why are our local mets (So. Fla.) predicting some heavy rains pretty much all this week?
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744. eye
11:13 PM GMT on June 15, 2008
it is looking ragged because the SST are marginal at best for development....all this season they come off, look great right off Africa where the ssts are 2-3 degrees higher than normal, then they get toward the mid atlantic where they are slightly lower than normal, factor that in plus dry air and shear and you have a poof
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742. GeoffreyWPB
7:11 PM EDT on June 15, 2008
Evening Pearland..Wave currently looking pretty ragged...but we will see what morning brings. Taking into consideration as a whole what the blog is saying....it will not be an issue this time tomorrow.
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741. eye
11:08 PM GMT on June 15, 2008
i read that the food prices might temp increase due to the flood, but then other, cheaper, imports will take the place of what was lost.


Doesnt the gov subsidize(sp) that industry no mater how good or bad the crop is? I thought i read that somewhere also. They actually have an incentive to produce less due to this.

I dont follow how fuel prices will be affected by the flood, last time i checked, no refinaries in Iowa.
Member Since: August 21, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 147
740. pearlandaggie
11:10 PM GMT on June 15, 2008
JFV...darnit! i was hoping shear would have taken care of it by now...looks like it could get serious!
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737. pearlandaggie
11:05 PM GMT on June 15, 2008
howdy, folks! what the latest on the african wave? (i've been out on the water all day)
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735. 0741
10:59 PM GMT on June 15, 2008
that wave getting ready go poof soon it not time of season yet
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734. GeoffreyWPB
6:58 PM EDT on June 15, 2008
I am just going by the crappy NHC loop. If there is a better Sat. loop to look at, I would love to add it to my favorites.
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733. sporteguy03
10:54 PM GMT on June 15, 2008
Great Answer JFV your insight is appreciated.
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732. weatherfromFlorida
10:51 PM GMT on June 15, 2008
731. GeoffreyWPB 10:34 PM GMT on June 15, 2008 Hide this comment.
Just took a look at the NHC East Atlantic loop...wave looks pretty ragged on there.


Its due to DMIN, let it rebound tonight. Also, it is not very ragged, compared to other waves, its holding its convection well, I am honestly impressed, It should be declared an Invest. Its met the criteria
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731. GeoffreyWPB
6:32 PM EDT on June 15, 2008
Just took a look at the NHC East Atlantic loop...wave looks pretty ragged on there.
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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.

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