NWS Des Moines Recollects on the 2008 Record Flood

Total precipitation from June 1 to June 15, 2008. Map courtesy of Midwestern Regional Climate Center (MRCC). http://mrcc.isws.illinois.edu/

Total precipitation from June 1 to June 15, 2008. Map courtesy of Midwestern Regional Climate Center (MRCC). http://mrcc.isws.illinois.edu/

This is the Union Pacific Bridge over the Cedar River in Waterloo. The bridge was partially damaged by the record flooding back in June of 2008. The crest at Waterloo was 27.01 feet on June 11, 2008. Previous record was 21.86 feet on March 29, 1961.

This is the Union Pacific Bridge over the Cedar River in Waterloo. The bridge was partially damaged by the record flooding back in June of 2008. The crest at Waterloo was 27.01 feet on June 11, 2008. Previous record was 21.86 feet on March 29, 1961. Image courtesy of Morgan Hawthorne – Waterloo Courier.Des Moines River at 2nd Avenue looking downstream. Photo taken by Ken Podrazik/Karl Jungbluth on June 12, 2008. The crest at this location was 31.57 feet and occurred on Friday June 13, 2008. The record crest was 31.71 feet on July 11, 1993.

Des Moines River at 2nd Avenue looking downstream. Photo taken by Ken Podrazik/Karl Jungbluth on June 12, 2008. The crest at this location was 31.57 feet and occurred on Friday June 13, 2008. The record crest was 31.71 feet on July 11, 1993.
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Rocking Chair 2nd and Hickman

The blue circle on the Google map above is location of this picture directly below it. This was taken along the Des Moines River on the corner of 2nd Avenue and Hickman Road in downtown Des Moines which is the location of the USGS river gauge and river forecast point DMOI4. The picture was taken on June 12, 2008, around 1530 UTC (10:30 a.m. CDT). The stage at 1100 UTC (6 a.m. CDT) that morning was 28.89 feet, while the stage the following morning on the 13th was 31.17 feet at 1100 UTC (6 a.m. CDT). The flow was 48,100 CFS on the morning of the 12th, and increased to 51,300 CFS by the morning of the 13th. Another way to see CFS is to relate cubic feet to a basketball. So, imagine a wall of 51,300 basketballs (1 basketball = 1 cubic foot) flowing past the rocking chair every second. The distance from the bank of the river to the blue circle is nearly the length of a football field. The Des Moines River crested at 31.57 feet on the 13th at around 1800 UTC (1 p.m. CDT), which eventually rose further up the driveway engulfing the location of the rocking chair.

Video of the Des Moines River on June 19, 2008 at the USGS river gauge in Tracy, Iowa (TRCI4). The flow, measured in cubic feet per second (CFS), was 85,600 and the height of the river was 22.4 feet. The crest of 23.70 feet occurred on June 14, 2008, but this was a great example of what 85,000 CFS looked like up close. The video was taken on an old railroad bridge right by the wire weight, which is seen at the beginning and end of the video.  At this site, the USACE estimated that the crest would have been 3 to 4 feet higher if there was no Red Rock Reservoir.

Meteorologist Ken Podrazik helps save the Marshalltown NOAA Weather Radio Transmitter from the Iowa River Flooding. June 9, 2008. Photo by Dave Reese - ESA

Meteorologist Ken Podrazik helps rescue the Marshalltown NOAA Weather Radio Transmitter from the Iowa River Flooding. June 9, 2008. Photo by Dave Reese – ESA Dave Reese - NWS Des Moines Electronics Systems Analysts treads flooded water from the Iowa River at Marshalltown. The small building at the right is where the Marshalltown NOAA Weather Radio Transmitter is located. There was already about a foot of flood water into the building. Photo taken June 9, 2008 by Ken Podrazik.

Dave Reese – NWS Des Moines Electronics Systems Analysts treads flooded water from the Iowa River at Marshalltown. The small building at the right is where the Marshalltown NOAA Weather Radio Transmitter is located. There was already about a foot of flood water into the building. Photo taken June 9, 2008 by Ken Podrazik.
The NWS Des Moines Office on June 9, 2008. Roger Vachalek on the left and Rich Kinney (now at DVN) on the right.

The NWS Des Moines Office on June 9, 2008. Roger Vachalek on the left and Rich Kinney (now at NWS Quad Cities) on the right. The NWS Des Moines meteorologists put multiple long days during the month of June 2008 including staffing the State Emergency Operations Center 24-hours a day for a 10 day period during the height of the flood.

The Cedar River Basin was hit the hardest with several record crests that occurred in mid-June of 2008.  The Des Moines and Iowa River Basin received moderate to major flooding, but few records were set in 2008.

Cedar River Basin crest records set in 2008.

Cedar River Basin crest records set in 2008.

Flood stages raised since 2008.

Flood stages raised since 2008.

Main Street Bridge in Cedar Falls, Iowa in mid-June 2008. Photo courtesy of Gaylen Isely

Main Street Bridge in Cedar Falls, Iowa in mid-June 2008. Photo courtesy of Gaylen Isely

Waverly, Iowa in mid-June 2008. Photo courtesy Reynolds Cramer.

Waverly, Iowa in mid-June 2008. Photo courtesy Reynolds Cramer.

A few other locations, other than in the Cedar Basin, set new crest records. However, two of these set new records in 2010.

A few other locations, other than in the Cedar Basin, set new crest records. However, two of these set new records in 2010.
The Des Moines River over Highway 65 southeast of Des Moines on June 14, 2008. Photo courtesy of the Civil Air Patrol.

The Des Moines River over Highway 65 southeast of Des Moines on June 14, 2008. Photo courtesy of the Civil Air Patrol.

Hydrograph (in cubic feet per second-CFS) of the Cedar River at Waterloo during the month of June 2008.   The crest was roughly 104,000 CFS or cubic feet per second on June 11, 2008. To visualize what CFS, a cubic foot is roughly the size of a basketball or a gallon jug of milk. Imagine a wall of 104,000 basketballs/milk jubs each second flowing past a certain point on the river. Pretty impressive.

Hydrograph (in cubic feet per second-CFS) of the Cedar River at Waterloo during the month of June 2008. The crest was roughly 104,000 CFS or cubic feet per second on June 11, 2008. To visualize what CFS, a cubic foot is roughly the size of a basketball or a gallon jug of milk. Imagine a wall of 104,000 basketballs/milk jubs each second flowing past a certain point on the river. Pretty impressive.