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Historic flooding hits Iowa

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

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.

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
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

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

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380. extreme236
11:38 AM GMT on June 15, 2008
I think one of the most significant things about this wave is that it is the first wave of the season to emerge off Africa and hold together and retain convection.
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379. extreme236
11:37 AM GMT on June 15, 2008
Thanks for the link W456, and I agree with everything you said.
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378. weathersp
7:35 AM EDT on June 15, 2008
Looks Great on the Penn State Site

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377. extreme236
11:33 AM GMT on June 15, 2008
The NHC did not mention it in their 8am TWO, however they do have a nice image of it on their formation probability map:

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376. Weather456
7:25 AM AST on June 15, 2008

I use the loops on this page.

I'm gonna watch this wave to see if it retains convection during the diurnal min. If so, this wave may be in its pre-genesis stage, based on favorable atmospheric conditions and an invest may be assigned to it. Satellite imagery showed excellent cyclonic turning in the mid-lower levels with most of the convection ahead of the wave axis which is an indicator of AEJ. Though, its a bit far south so much development not expected for now. However, being that far south means it remains in the favorable region of SSTs and low shear....not good.
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375. extreme236
11:23 AM GMT on June 15, 2008
There is an anticyclone over the wave as well, and in general there is low shear in the region. SSTs are warm and the overall environment is fairly moist.
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374. extreme236
11:20 AM GMT on June 15, 2008
W456 what do you think of the wave...I can't click on the image for the RAMSDIS satellite imagery but it shows a small image of it and it looks impressive...here is the link:

Its the meteosat 4km floater that requires a password but you can see the small image.
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373. Weather456
7:12 AM AST on June 15, 2008

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372. Weather456
10:55 PM AST on June 14, 2008
Good Morning, none of the waves persisted as long as this one....
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371. extreme236
10:55 AM GMT on June 15, 2008
Good morning everyone...just wanted to stop in and say that the satellite imagery this morning shows that the twave in the EATL is still intact and impressive. I don't have the RAMSDIS password to access the one imagery on their site but that image is more up to date and shows a very impressive wave.
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370. ShenValleyFlyFish
5:53 AM EDT on June 15, 2008
Million flee south Chinese floods

Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.

Footage showing the extent of the flood damage

Flooding in southern China has killed at least 55 people and forced more than one million to flee their homes, the government says.

Torrential downpours have affected nine provinces, China's civil affairs ministry says. More rain is expected in the coming days, forecasters warn.

Among those provinces badly hit is Sichuan, which is still reeling from last month's massive earthquake.

Some 87,000 people were killed or missing after the 12 May earthquake.

Farm land submerged

China's civil affairs ministry says nearly 1.3 million people have now fled their homes in the hardest hit regions as the bad weather continues.

Television showed boats cruising city streets, homeowners trying to bale out their home and rescuers handing out supplies of bottled water.

The flooding has submerged large areas of farm land and destroyed 6,600 homes in Guangdong and Jiangxi provinces, the official Xinhua news agency reports.

It says that many roads throughout the affected areas have been covered by landslides.

The flooding in the Pearl river delta is the worst for 50 years, forcing the Guangdong government to issue an emergency flood alert throughout the province, Xinhua says.

China 's rainy season causes chaos every year, often leaving many dead and forcing millions to leave their homes.

In the past, the Chinese authorities have warned that climate change may make the problem worse, the BBC's Daniel Griffiths in Beijing says.

Have you been caught up in the floods? Are you in the area? Send us your experiences using the form below.

You can send your pictures and moving footage to yourpics@bbc.co.uk or text them to +44 7725 100 100

When taking photos or filming please do not endanger yourself or others, take unnecessary risks or infringe any laws.

Email address:
Town and Country:
Phone number (optional):
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/06/15 08:12:35 GMT

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369. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
6:50 AM GMT on June 15, 2008
Japan Meteorological Agency

No Current Tropical Cyclones/Bulletins

Philippines Atmospheric, Geophysical, & Astronomical Services Administration

Tropical Weather Outlook
At 2:00 AM PST, A Low Pressure Area was estimated based on satellite and surface data at 850 kms east of Southern Mindanao (6.0ºN 134.0ºE).

Joint Typhoon Warning Center

Tropical Disturbance Summary (0600z 15Jun)
An area of convection (94W) located near 4.5N 139.1E or 305 NM south of Yap. Recent animated multispectral satellite imagery depicts flaring convection over a broad, but improving low level circulation center. A 2356z ASCAT image depicts 10-15 knots near the low level circulation center and recent microwave imagery confirms this broad circulation. Recent synoptic observations from Palau and Yap reports 0.5 an 1.0 mb pressure falls respectively over the past 24 hours. Upper level analysis depicts low vertical wind shear and favorable diffluence aloft.

Maximum sustained winds near the surface is 10-15 knots with a minimum sea level pressure of 1008 mb. Since the circulation is broad, the potential for this disturbance to form into a significant tropical cyclone within the next 24 hours is POOR.
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368. bluenosedave
6:34 AM GMT on June 15, 2008
Hey, all. I've been lurking since late May, but haven't made any comments yet this season. Thought you might be interested in how the effects of hurricanes can linger for years afterwards.

Hurricane Juan hit central Nova Scotia in late Sept. 2003 as a strong Cat. 1/weak Cat. 2. It was the worst tropical cyclone we'd experienced in recent memory. Only 2 people killed, but a lot of damage, including a huge number of trees blown down (more than would be expected from a storm of this size).

Today the chickens are coming home to roost. The Porter's Lake fire is in one of the areas hardest hit by Juan. Those blown-down trees, most of which were never cleared, have been dead for nearly 5 years and are now an enormous source of fuel for this fire. We haven't seen a serious forest fire in this province for decades, and while this pales in comparison to what goes on in California and Australia on a regular basis, it's bad tidings for us, especially as the summer hasn't yet officially begun.

It's quite possible we could suffer more damage from the aftereffects of Juan, nearly 5 years later, than we suffered from Juan himself.

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367. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
3:46 AM GMT on June 15, 2008

the detour route of Interstate 80 in Central Iowa.
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366. streamtracker
3:29 AM GMT on June 15, 2008
Looks like it may be cresting, but the amount of discharge is incredible.

You can get real time data on Iowa river/streams here: Real-Time Data for Iowa
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365. Tazmanian
8:14 PM PDT on June 14, 2008
what kind of wind shear dos this Very impressive wave have??? and for how long???
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364. extreme236
3:03 AM GMT on June 15, 2008
I bet it certainly caught the eyes of those at the NHC...good night all!
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363. extreme236
2:53 AM GMT on June 15, 2008
Just stopping in before bed...thats a very impressive wave. I would have to say the best of the season so far...its not dying as fast as the others we have seen. I will sure be more interested in it if there is still something left of it by morning.
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362. DDR
2:42 AM GMT on June 15, 2008
Thats a very impressive wave.
Pottery i think we will get some rain around the middle of the week,most likely from those two waves but we can't rule out the possiblity of the itzc.
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361. DDR
2:36 AM GMT on June 15, 2008
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360. Drakoen
2:34 AM GMT on June 15, 2008
Here's an animated gif I put together since we can't access RAMSDIS loops. Interesting what you can do if you're resourceful :-)

make avatar
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359. pottery
10:19 PM AST on June 14, 2008
There is a major area of Sahara dry air, and Dust, from Africa to 60W. This will tend to snuffout any Twaves that try to get established in the next week, in my opinion.
I am surprised at the models calling for something in the Trop. atl late this week, and Trinidad Met Service is forecasting 100% chance of thunderstorms on Thursday of next week.
They may be anticipating ITCZ rather than a wave, I dont know.

Any thoughts on this ?
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358. Weather456
10:03 PM AST on June 14, 2008
356. Drakoen 9:57 PM AST on June 14, 2008

Yea...I know the website...its good
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357. Drakoen
2:00 AM GMT on June 15, 2008
355. Tazmanian 1:54 AM GMT on June 15, 2008
could that Very impressive wave be come 92L?

Unlikely. Waves like these could degenerate easily without the right conditions.
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356. Drakoen
1:56 AM GMT on June 15, 2008
W456, Link

They are actually ships but same difference lol.
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355. Tazmanian
6:52 PM PDT on June 14, 2008
could that Very impressive wave be come 92L?
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354. Weather456
9:46 PM AST on June 14, 2008
351. Drakoen 9:45 PM AST on June 14, 2008

Link to that station?....Cuz I'm not seeing any station reports.
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353. Tazmanian
6:48 PM PDT on June 14, 2008
we could be seeing 92L here vary soon but oh nos where
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352. Drakoen
1:47 AM GMT on June 15, 2008
High resolution quicksat imagery suggesting cyclonic turning induced by the surface westerlies east of 20W in the EATL.
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351. Drakoen
1:41 AM GMT on June 15, 2008
It's probably able to maintain strong convection because the waters of the Africa coast are above 26C. Some of the stations out there are reporting 29C temperatures at that latitude which is believable looking at the NOAA SST products:Link.
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350. WeatherfanPR
1:35 AM GMT on June 15, 2008
No rain no nothing all day. just a very warm HOT day here in Carolina PR and right now it's still very warm and HOT. A little bit of rain please!!!
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349. Weather456
9:32 PM AST on June 14, 2008
Very impressive throughout the day

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348. Drakoen
1:22 AM GMT on June 15, 2008
Descending pass:
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347. InTheCone
9:16 PM EDT on June 14, 2008
We'll just have to wait and see...

Thanks 456, escellent analysis as usual!
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346. Tazmanian
6:13 PM PDT on June 14, 2008
thanks 456
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345. Tazmanian
6:10 PM PDT on June 14, 2008
InTheCone that wave may not be doing any thing march right now but when it dos move in too 5 to 10kt of wind shear it may give it some kind of a ch to do some in but 1st of all i want to see if it can last the next 12 to 24hrs be for we start talking about any thing big
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344. Weather456
9:08 PM AST on June 14, 2008
Taz, Oh to answer the last part....its moving westward.
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343. BahaHurican
9:07 PM EDT on June 14, 2008
250. KarenRei 1:53 PM EDT on June 14, 2008

Thanks for sharing, Karen. This has to be a difficult time for all these residents and business owners.
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342. InTheCone
8:59 PM EDT on June 14, 2008
Hey Taz!!!

Glad to see you kept your original handle! Always the best! Hope you keep it... & thanks for the pics. That wave may bring some drought busting rains to Fl. Hopefully NOT more!
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341. BahaHurican
8:55 PM EDT on June 14, 2008
245. pearlandaggie 12:54 PM EDT on June 14, 2008
242. amen! and "dontstopthinking"! :)

Explain to me the usefulness of sandbagging in the middle of Hurricane Katrina again?

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340. Tazmanian
6:03 PM PDT on June 14, 2008
ok 456 but i will be watching it for the next 12 to 24hrs

this is what the nhc says out at 8:05

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339. Weather456
8:49 PM AST on June 14, 2008
Taz, the area is mainly the passage of the northern portion of a TW, interacting with diffluent flow aloft. No development is expected until wind shear, which is 40 knots, relaxes and it does not seem likelly in the near term.
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338. Tazmanian
5:46 PM PDT on June 14, 2008
hi . PanhandleChuck i am doing well

456 dos it have a ch??? it looks like we may have some in to keep a eye on here it could be moveing in too lower wind shear wish is 5 to 10kt do we no where it is going???
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337. Weather456
8:30 PM AST on June 14, 2008
The most intense showers remain offshore

Two stations on opposite ends of the Mona Passage.

PUNTA, Dominican Republic (MDPC) - Weather moderate thunder shower

AGUADILLA BORINQUEN, Puerto Rico (TJBQ) - Overcast at 2000 feet

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336. PanhandleChuck
7:40 PM CDT on June 14, 2008
Hey Taz, how's it going? I've never been through a TS or a Hurricane. People down here say I'm crazy, for wanting to see it first hand. I've chased a couple of tornadoes in Ohio and have seen my share of severe storms. I'm sure that those experiences will pail in comparrison to my first tropical event.
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335. Chicklit
7:33 PM EST on June 14, 2008
Any opinions on when the east coast of Central Florida will get some rain? Sorry Iowa wish we could take some of your H2O and bring it down here!
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334. Tazmanian
5:38 PM PDT on June 14, 2008
care full what you wish for you may get more then this a TS
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333. PanhandleChuck
7:30 PM CDT on June 14, 2008
This is boring... I would settle for a little old tropical storm right about now. The most excitement that I've had (weather related), was the lightning strike that Walmart took today while I was there.
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332. Tazmanian
5:29 PM PDT on June 14, 2008
thanks pot
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331. pottery
8:23 PM AST on June 14, 2008
Welcome back, TAZ.
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330. trunkmonkey
12:09 AM GMT on June 15, 2008
323. trunkmonkey 10:41 PM GMT on June 14, 2008
Sam, this is taken out of the NFP, please read the plan, its states it in the plan.
If a community chooses not to participate, flood insurance is not available from the NFIP. Moreover, if a President declares a disaster as a result of flooding, federal financial assistance will not be available, Sam I don't want to argue, I work in this field and our community doesn't participate, so we are out of luck.
Action: | Ignore User

Trunkmonkey - Your original statement said:

surfmom, to answer some of your questions, let me start, by saying this is a lose lose situation,
1. If you are not in a FEMA flood plain, you can't get flood insurance, therefore your hosed.

Show me back up in the NFIP guidelines that backs up your original statement that I disagreed with.

Oh, and by the way, I work in the filed as well & am not arguing with you but I won't let inaccurate statements like the one you made go by without comment.
Action: | Ignore User

Sam is there a way I may E-mail you, maybe I need an education, I'll explain my position and why I make the comments, Trunkmonkey
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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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