Fire Near Radar

The Iowa Flood Center mobile weather radar unit stationed at the Iowa City landfill. Photo courtesy of Aneta Goska, 5/27/2012.

The Iowa Flood Center (IFC) got a scare over the weekend when fire broke out Saturday night at the Iowa City Landfill. One of the Iowa Flood Center’s four state-of-the-art mobile weather radar units, stationed at the landfill, is close to the fire still burning at the landfill, although it is currently in no danger, says IFC Director Witold Krajewski. Researchers continue to monitor the situation closely.

IFC researchers are getting an up close and personal view of the smoke via a remote camera trained on the mobile weather radar unit as it was in the process of testing when the landfill fire broke out on Saturday. The camera was set up to watch how the mobile unit responds to remote commands. View the live feed here.

The Iowa Flood Center (IFC) operates the radar units as a network providing high-resolution rainfall intensity data over the Clear Creek experimental watershed. The radar units are optimized for rainfall observations and help Iowa Flood Center researchers as they develop improved algorithms for determining precipitation. In addition to the landfill site, IFC radar units are stationed at the Iowa City Municipal Airport and the Eastern Iowa Airport.

Photo courtesy of Aneta Goska.

The IFC radars have polarimetric capabilities, which provide higher-quality data for determining rainfall quantities. The Center is one of only a few institutions nationwide operating a radar network with these capabilities. IFC researchers currently use radar data from National Weather Service radars to develop high-resolution precipitation maps for the Iowa Flood Information System.

“We are one of very few groups with the expertise to do this,” says Krajewski. “Our way of displaying the data is unique.” The precipitation maps will not provide a forecast, but rather an almost real-time report of precipitation.

When the fire at the landfill is extinguished, Krajewski says, IFC engineers will bring the radar back to campus for a thorough cleaning.

To learn more about the Iowa Flood Center, visit