Flood Inundation Map: Mason City

Center Develops Web-Based Flood Map for Mason City

A new web-based flood preparedness tool developed at the Iowa Flood Center (IFC) can help Mason City residents know what to expect from the Winnebago River at times of high flows.

The new Mason City flood inundation maps are available to the public on the Internet through the Iowa Flood Information System (IFIS), an interactive Google Maps-based online application.  Homeowners and business owners will now be able to see how predicted flood levels might affect their individual properties.

Nathan Young, IFC associate director, says improving flood preparedness is one of the IFC’s key goals. “This is an opportunity for us to produce research that is useful and meaningful for Iowans. Our high-resolution web-based flood inundation maps illustrate where floodwaters will go under different conditions.

He adds, “We believe this extra measure of preparedness can save property, resources, and lives.”

With these maps, Iowa Flood Center researchers are taking the guesswork out of future flood scenarios for Mason City and several other Iowa communities. When floods struck Iowa in the past, uncertainty was part of the problem. Property owners were unsure if projected floodwaters would reach them, and how they ought to prepare.

“The models and information provided by the Iowa Flood Center are another set of tools for our city to use in planning for a flooding event,” says Mason City City Administrator Brent Trout. “We need information like this to better understand and predict where flooding will occur first, so we can put our resources at the correct location.”

Trout adds, “We appreciate IFC completing this for our community.”

IFC engineers use bathymetric surveys of the riverbed to determine the shape of the channel and aerial LiDAR (laser radar) data. With this information, researchers can create very detailed maps of the streambed and floodplain to illustrate where floodwaters will go under different conditions.

The detailed flood inundation maps are available online for a number of Iowa communities including Cedar Rapids, Charles City, Des Moines, Elkader, Hills, Iowa City, and Waterloo/Cedar Falls. Additional communities will be mapped in the future.

To use the interactive online maps, visit the Iowa Flood Information System (IFIS). Launch IFIS, and click “Flood Maps” to view the inundation maps.

The Iowa Flood Center is part of IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering, a unit of the UI College of Engineering. The IFC was created in 2009 in the aftermath of the historic 2008 Iowa floods and is supported by state appropriations to improve flood monitoring and prevention in Iowa.

MEDIA CONTACT: Sara Steussy, Iowa Flood Center, 319-384-1729, sara-steussy@uiowa.edu

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