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

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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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129. Weather456
7:17 PM AST on June 13, 2008
123. DDR 7:14 PM AST on June 13, 2008

I'm from St. Kitts. You from de islands?
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
128. Weather456
7:14 PM AST on June 13, 2008
121. pearlandaggie 7:13 PM AST on June 13, 2008
thanks, 456! any idea if it will get the blob in the field of view?

Usually QuikSCAT scatterometer travels westward. Normally when the Eastern ATL gets a full pass, the Western Gulf does. The east Atl had a full pass this evening so most likely it will catch the western GOM.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
127. pearlandaggie
11:16 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
124. thanks, atmo! have a great one! and look at the video...it will make your hair stand on end! whoop! :)
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126. atmoaggie
11:15 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
Pearlandaggie i can't see your post the're hidden,are you banned or something?

He is clearly touchy about it. Must you make him feel worse? lol
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125. pearlandaggie
11:14 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
123. i sure hope not! LOL..the same happens for me...other users' posts are hidden (especially stormtop!) i don't know why this occurs....must be a software problem.
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124. atmoaggie
11:08 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
pearland ag:

I did get your mail, was in a loud coffee shop and could not hear it...will look later.

Blobs are attracted to ugly (read Homestead, Eastern NOLA, PA/Lake Charles, etc.) So blob is going to PA (Port Arthur) to see my mother-in-law.

Interesting about the oxygen isotopes in tree proxy climate assumptions.

I have seen the Katrina results...really spectacular.

Gotta go, try not to lose any arguments with yourself.
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123. DDR
11:03 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
Wow! thats some extreme flooding,
any caribbean folks on the blog tonight?

Pearlandaggie i can't see your posts the're hidden,are you banned or something?
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122. pearlandaggie
11:13 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
120. dammit! it had better hurry up, then!
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121. pearlandaggie
11:12 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
thanks, 456! any idea if it will get the blob in the field of view?
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120. Weather456
7:12 PM AST on June 13, 2008
114. pearlandaggie 6:59 PM AST on June 13, 2008
any idea which way that blob is going? (this is about the only time i'm actually interested in blobchasing!) :)

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
119. Weather456
7:03 PM AST on June 13, 2008
105. pearlandaggie 6:37 PM AST on June 13, 2008
when's the next quikscat pass over the GoM supposed to happen?

Layter tonight around 11pm-1am
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
118. pearlandaggie
11:06 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
atmo, have you seen some of the power dissipation values for Katrina? totally amazing!
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117. ATS3
11:01 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
cchs can't wait for nhc info..............
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116. pearlandaggie
11:02 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
atmo, i was only joking about AGW! you're gonna stir up the misanthropes! LOL

btw, have you seen this? Link
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115. atmoaggie
10:59 PM GMT on June 13, 2008

This month's BAMS has a couple of TC and climate change articles. This one is very interesting.
Hurricanes and Climate Change
James B. Elsner

And, another by Emanuel. Concedes that our theories on TC frequency are rather lacking and incomplete.
The Hurricane—Climate Connection
Kerry Emanuel
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114. pearlandaggie
10:58 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
any idea which way that blob is going? (this is about the only time i'm actually interested in blobchasing!) :)
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113. pearlandaggie
10:56 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
111. LOL! that was like 19 minutes of blog vacuum! :)
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112. pearlandaggie
10:55 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
lol, atmoag! you know, like they always say...as long as you don't answer your own questions!

/did you get my mail?
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111. redrobin
5:55 PM CDT on June 13, 2008
hhahahaa its a ghost town!!!!hahha sure sign nothing is going on pearland
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110. atmoaggie
10:53 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
Hi pearlandag. I am here. We should be careful, though, someone is bound to accuse us of being one and the same...and talking to ourself.
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109. pearlandaggie
10:52 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
maybe i should say a few things about AGW! LOL!
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108. pearlandaggie
10:50 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
maybe everyone has me on Ignore! boy, that would suck!
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107. pearlandaggie
10:49 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
am i the only one here this afternoon? i feel like i'm in the blog twilight zone! :)
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106. pearlandaggie
10:37 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
102. looks like western florida might be getting a little relief as well! thank goodness :)
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105. pearlandaggie
10:36 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
when's the next quikscat pass over the GoM supposed to happen?
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104. pearlandaggie
10:35 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
if that disturbance is going to come ashore in Texas, do it tonight or early tomorrow and get it out of your system! i want small surf on sunday, darnit! LOL
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103. TerraNova
6:05 PM EDT on June 13, 2008
Morning everyone...models are predicting some action in the Eastern Atlantic next week, which is definitely possible considering the multitude of strong waves rolling off the W African coast recently (one has already managed to be declared an invest).

The 12z CMC is the most agressive model concerning the potential development around Cape Verde. According to 850 vorticity a vigorous tropical wave that has yet to develop will emerge off of Africa next week (~144 hours). The CMC has it following a course due west just to the south of 10N, which would make sense given the high pressure ridge the models are predicting will dig southward next week. Shear is favorable or will likely be favorable in this area next week so this general area will have to be monitored; however the CMC forecast should be taken with a grain of salt as it develops the area of vorticity out of pretty much nothing but what I think looks like diurnal convection.

The GFS does not develop the East Atlantic low but attempts to develop a low along the ITCZ in the medium range.

The ECMWF interestingly shows an area of distrubed weather around Cape Verde in the long range and then a developing low in the SW Caribbean at maximum range, but there has been no consistency so far and a lack of model support (except for the CMC which is hinting at a similar scenario in the EATL but more sooner).

The blob in the GOM will drift northward and bring rain to Louisiana next week.

Moral of the story: tropics quiet at the moment, looks like they will stay quiet through at least the beginning of next week. Models are stumbling all over the place.

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102. Michfan
5:10 PM CDT on June 13, 2008
Notice that big red blob of clouds in SE Alabama. We got pounded again today. 4 straight days of POPS here. Love it.
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101. extreme236
10:08 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
Very disorganized convection. Not expecting anything from this except for some rain for wherever this thing goes.

Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
100. extreme236
10:04 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
Hello everyone...I have been watching the news about what happened to Tim Russert. He will be in my thoughts in prayers.

He was truly a great journalist who would ask the tough questions to people. Very sad news.
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
99. HrDelta
9:59 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
It seems the climate for the entire US is off in one way or another.
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98. atmoaggie
9:55 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
you get buried in a cloud of dust and dirt when you mow the lawn

No different in SE LA, for the moment. Easy to turn a tissue black after mowing (I shall not elaborate...you know what I mean if you've done it).
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96. Floodman
4:31 PM CDT on June 13, 2008
91. StormW

Congratulations, StormW! Now for a little more every day for the next week or so, huh?
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95. Thundercloud01221991
9:30 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
how about if you take some of the midwest rain like maybe 6 inches of it they have already had over 2 feet of rain in places they can give up 6 inches can't they
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93. 69Viking
9:24 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
91. StormW

No fair, still not a drop here in Fort Walton Beach. Dark clouds all around with Thunder but no rain here. I swear Isolated Storms suck when you need rain!
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 3605
92. Drakoen
9:23 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
All the rain action is on that west coast....
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90. HrDelta
9:21 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
Tim Russurt WILL be missed. Maybe we should have a minute of silence.

But on what is happening in the Midwest, when will this Tornado Outbreak/ Flood End.
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89. cchsweatherman
9:11 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
86. presslord 9:05 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
Tim Russert has died...

Possibly the best journalist in the world during this modern era. He will be sorely missed for his hard-nosed, yet sanity in this increasingly maligned journalistic world. God bless his soul and his family. Only 58 years old. What a shame.
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9:09 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
Oh no, Tim Russert.
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87. cchsweatherman
8:59 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.
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86. presslord
5:04 PM EDT on June 13, 2008
Tim Russert has died...
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85. Drakoen
8:58 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
I don't see where the GFS is showing developing in the CATL. It was in previous runs then dropped it.
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84. guygee
9:00 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
(Repost from previous blog with updates)
Big weather story remains the midwest flooding, affecting hundreds of thousands of people with likely later global implications due to crop damage and continuing global food inflation, speculation and local shortages.

NOAA/NWS/USGS River Observations-All Locations (Graphic)
Latest flood stages and precipitation across Iowa
MODIS Flooding Imagery Comparison Between
May 28 and June 08, 2008 Across Indiana

Today's Stories from local sources:
Historic Sutliff Bridge has Collapsed
UI suspends classes, asks non-essential employees to stay home
Mandatory Order: Downtown Cedar Falls Businesses Must Close
Iowa City: 500-Year Flood Plain Plan for Evacuation, Flood Updates
Numbers coming out from flooding are just staggering
Rising water forces Mercy Medical Center evacuation
River's unthinkable rise cripples Cedar Rapids
Anamosa levee break sends contaminated sewage water flowing
100-year flood plan in Iowa City reaches breaking point
Improvements since '93 may not be enough for Iowa City
Water forces section of I-80 to shut down
In tiny Oakville, boatloads of anxiety
Jet stream shift main culprit for flooding
2-year-old and father rescued from flooded car
River engulfs parts of C.R.; 9,000 displaced
Agricultural Impacts
AgWeb June 2008 Crop Comments
Wet weather starting to cut into Illinois corn
Harkin: Floods Likely Caused Significant Crop Losses in Iowa
Iowa: The Newest Great Lake
Image Galleries and Slideshows
Floods of 2008 - Iowa Department of Transportation
Des Moines Register Reader-posted flooding
and weather photos

Quad-City Times, Davenport, IA Iowa Flooding 1
Quad-City Times, Davenport, IA Iowa Flooding 2
Telegraph Herald - Dubuque, IA Vinton Flood Photos
Telegraph Herald - Dubuque, IA Cedar Falls and Waterloo Flood Photos
Telegraph Herald - Dubuque, IA Elkader flood slideshow
Telegraph Herald - Dubuque, IA Iowa City Flood Photos
Watch Aerials from Cedar Rapids IA
KCRG-TV Cedar Rapids Flood of 2008 Live streaming coverage
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83. PrettyLove23
3:51 PM CDT on June 13, 2008
Wow what a record of rainfall. I somewhat saw this one coming. It's days like these when you are reminded as to what makes weather the most predominantly, unpredictable, dealiest force on the planet. That's what we have wunderground for.
My blessings and prayers to all those affected by the June 7-8 storms.
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82. txalwaysprepared
8:56 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
I've been running around all day rescuing a wounded baby dove and getting ready for house guests.. anything looking interesting out there?
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8:53 PM GMT on June 13, 2008
It looks like the Low/Storm up in the Midwest would pull this disturbance west/northwest.
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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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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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