The National Weather Service is monitoring runoff moving through the river systems. Some areas have reached or are nearing crest levels, while others are well on the way up. Forecasts will likely change as more information is gathered about how runoff is moving through the river system and how ice continues to affect the flows. View the latest situation report:
Brittany Borghi, UI Office of Strategic Communications
As Americans continue to be impacted by extreme weather at higher rates, better technology needs to be used between more collaborative groups of national and regional weather centers to increase reporting and safety, says National Weather Service (NWS) Director Louis W. Uccellini. Uccellini spoke to the University of Iowa campus community Wednesday, Oct. 15.
The idea of creating a Weather-Ready Nation is a strategic plan developed by the NWS, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and others, with the goal of improving forecasting services, adapting to climate-related risks, supporting healthy communities and ecosystems, and sustaining a highly-skilled workforce to meet that mission.
“For the first time since I’ve been in the weather service—and it goes back to 1989 – we’ve got everybody lined up,” says Uccellini. “If we’ve got better forecasts, people are more responsive.”
Increasing collaboration to produce better forecasts means involving more public research institutions, especially on the issues of flooding and water. To increase water monitoring, NOAA and the NWS have created the National Water Center, located at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.
“We want to get the research community engaged in the work that we do,” says NWS Office of Hydrologic Development acting director Don Cline.
The goal is to have the 13 NWS River Forecast Centers across the nation report to the National Water Center. The Iowa Flood Center of IIHR—Hydroscience and Engineering hopes to be able to play a crucial role in accelerating developments at the National Water Center by leveraging the experiences and technological advances from Iowa.
“That’s what we would really like to see,” says Witold Krajewski, director of the Iowa Flood Center, “a strong collaboration between the Iowa Flood Center and the National Weather Service, in particular with the National Water Center as they ramp up their operations. We believe the tools we’ve developed in Iowa can be valuable to the nation.”
The Iowa Flood Center will welcome National Weather Service Director, Dr. Louis W. Uccellini, and members of his staff to campus on October 14 and 15. Dr. Uccellini will spend time visiting with Iowa Flood Center leaders to learn more about the tools, resources, and capabilities of the Center.
The public will have an opportunity to learn more about the National Weather Service and the National Water Center on Wednesday, October 15 at 10:30 AM. Dr. Uccellini will present “Building a Weather-Ready Nation: Advancing the NWS Hydrology Program” and Dr. Done Cline, Acting Director NWS Office of Hydrologic Development, will present “Environmental Intelligence: Water 1.0 – The National Water Center and the Transformation of NOAA’s Water Prediction Services.” Additional information about the presentations can be found on the calendar.
After the presentations, Dr. Uccellini and Dr. Cline will take questions.
A dynamic, new online flood preparedness tool which will help emergency managers improve flood warnings and response has been developed for the Cedar River at Cedar Falls and Waterloo, Iowa.
The National Weather Service collaborated with the Iowa Flood Center to develop a library of flood inundation maps for the Cedar River. The final version of these flood inundation maps are the culmination of a partnership between the Iowa Flood Center (IFC), the City of Cedar Falls, the City of Waterloo, the NOAA Central Region – Regional Collaboration Team and the National Weather Service (NWS). This capability will help communicate the flood risks for areas along the Cedar River.
Because this new tool is so critical during floods, it is available from two sources. The first source is the NWS Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS) Web site. On the AHPS pages for the Cedar River at Cedar Falls and Waterloo, click on the tab near the top of the page named “Inundation Mapping.” The second source is the Iowa Flood Center’s Iowa Flood Information System (IFIS). Go to the Flood Maps section on the right hand side of the page and select Cedar Falls or Waterloo.
Flood inundation maps help people visualize the potential extent of flooding at various river levels. This information can assist in planning and mitigation decisions.
Dr. Nathan Young, Associate Director of the Iowa Flood Center, said the IFC has been developing flood inundation maps since the IFC’s inception in 2009. “This is an opportunity for us to apply research that is useful and meaningful for Iowans,” he said. “These detailed maps demonstrate the extent of the flooded landscape with every twelve-inch rise in the flood level. We believe this information will empower communities and individuals to make informed decisions about their flood risks.”
Jeff Zogg, Senior Hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Des Moines, said the development of the Cedar Falls flood inundation maps was a team effort which resulted in valuable tools for people in the Cedar Falls and Waterloo area. “Many people worked together to make these maps available. We especially appreciate the involvement of local community officials in Cedar Falls and Waterloo. These maps will help the NWS provide enhanced decision support services to people there.”
Marty Ryan, Cedar Falls City Planner, echoes those sentiments as applied to Cedar Falls. “Public safety personnel and utilities service personnel can utilize these maps to assist with proper evacuation protocols when necessary or otherwise ensure that critical utility services are not compromised or cause any public safety concerns during flood events.”
Jamie Knutson, Waterloo Flood Engineer said that the flood inundation maps will be valuable for multiple reasons. “The flood inundation maps will allow for better long range planning and allow for better decision making early on in the flood for which areas may need to be evacuated. This will be a nice addition to our flood fighting tools.”
The National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. The National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and to enhance the national economy. The NWS provides decision support services as well as enhanced services to local, state, and regional decision makers. For other locations where flood inundation maps are available see the National Weather Service AHPS Web site.
The Iowa Flood Center is part of IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering, a research institute based at the University of Iowa’s College of Engineering. The IFC provides accurate, state-of-the-science-based information to help Iowans better understand their flood risks. It is the nation’s first academic center devoted solely to the study of floods. Additional IFC resources—including flood inundation maps for other Iowa communities—can be found on the Iowa Flood Center Web site.
The City of Cedar Falls has critical river levees protecting the downtown area, the City wastewater treatment plant and Cedar Falls Utilities. The City will upgrade its downtown levee next year to increase the flood protection level. More information about the City of Cedar Falls and its departments can be found on the City of Cedar Falls Web site.
The Cedar Falls flood inundation maps are based on observations and forecasts involving readings from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) stream gage along the Cedar River at Cedar Falls. More information about USGS streamgaging in Iowa is available on the USGS Iowa Water Science Center Web site.
The City of Waterloo has 20 miles of levees and flood walls to help protect its citizens from the Cedar River. In order to operate the levee system, a number of different City departments are involved during a flood including Engineering, Public Works, Waste Management, Leisure Services, Police and Fire. More information about the City of Waterloo and its departments can be found on the City of Waterloo Web site.
NWS Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service
The direct link is http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/inundation/inundation_google.php?gage=cedi4.
Iowa Flood Information System
The direct link is http://ifis.iowafloodcenter.org/ifis/main/?m=WATERLOO.
Iowa Flood Center
The University of Iowa
100 Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory
Iowa City, IA 52242
Contact: Breanna Shea