As floodwaters rise, our anxiety levels often do too. But this time around, Iowans have new sources of reliable information to turn to, thanks to the Iowa Flood Center (IFC) at the University of Iowa.
The IFC offers Iowans a set of readily accessible online tools through the Iowa Flood Information System (IFIS). IFIS provides maps and up-to-date information about community-specific flood conditions across the state.
Flood inundation maps of 10 Iowa communities are particularly useful during flood events to help people visualize the potential extent of flooding at a range of river levels. This information can help individuals and communities plan and make sound mitigation decisions, and allows homeowners, business owners, and others see how predicted flood levels might affect their property.
IFIS includes a full set of flood inundation maps for the following communities (click a community to view the map):
- Des Moines
- Mason City
- Charles City
- Waterloo/Cedar Falls
- Cedar Rapids
- Iowa City
Nathan Young, associate director of the Iowa Flood Center, says the IFC has been developing flood inundation maps since the center was launched four years ago. “This is an opportunity for us to apply research that is useful and meaningful for Iowans,” he says. “Our maps demonstrate not just a 100-year flood or a 500-year flood, but also the extent of the flooded landscape with every six-inch rise in the projected flood level. We believe this extra measure of preparedness can save property, resources, and lives.”
To access IFIS, visit ifis.iowafloodcenter.org. From this page, you can launch IFIS or view a brief tutorial on how to use the system. To view flood inundation maps for one of the communities listed above, users should select “Flood Map Libraries” from the Flood Maps menu option on the IFIS dashboard and select the appropriate community. The flood map controller slide bar on the right allows users to see the potential extent of flooding at any selected stage or discharge.
IFIS uses a Google maps interface, so users can zoom in and out, switch to different views (satellite and street view), and navigate around the map.
Maps for additional communities are added to IFIS each year. For additional information on the development of the community-based flood inundation maps, visit: http://iowafloodcenter.org/projects/flood-inundation-maps/.