A Watershed Year: Anatomy of the Iowa Floods of 2008 (Bur by Cornelia F. Mutel

By Cornelia F. Mutel

In June 2008, the rivers of jap Iowa rose above their banks to create floods of epic proportions; their impressive size—flowing in locations at a price approximately double that of the former list flood—and the rapidity in their upward thrust ruined farmlands and displaced hundreds of thousands of citizens and hundreds and hundreds of companies. In Cedar Rapids, the waters inundated greater than 9 sq. miles of the downtown region; in Iowa urban, the place the flood used to be additionally the main harmful in historical past, the college of Iowa’s arts campus used to be destroyed. by means of supplying a pretty good base of clinical and technical info offered with strange readability and a wealth of helping illustrations, the participants to this far-reaching booklet, a lot of whom dealt firsthand with the 2008 floods, offer a close roadmap of the factors and results of destiny devastating floods. The twenty-five essays fall clearly into 4 sections. “Rising Rivers, Spreading Waters” starts by way of evaluating the 2008 floods with the midwestern floods of 1993, strikes directly to hint group responses to the 2008 floods, and ends via illuminating suggestions for forecasting floods and picking out their measurement and frequency. “Why right here, Why Now?” searches for attainable reasons of the 2008 floods and of flooding mostly: annual vegetation and concrete landscapes, inflows into and releases from reservoirs, and weather swap. “Flood Damages, Flood expenses, Flood advantages” considers the advanced mixture of flood expenses and results, emphasizing damages to towns and farmlands in addition to capability advantages to traditional groups and archaeological websites. “Looking again, having a look ahead” lays out ways to coping with the floods of the longer term which are absolute to come. whereas the publication attracts such a lot of its examples from one specific area, it explains flooding all through a far higher region—the midwestern Corn Belt—and therefore its sobering but energizing classes follow well past jap Iowa. via analyzing the relationships between rivers, floodplains, climate, and smooth society; through stressing concerns of technology and truth instead of social or coverage matters; and via addressing a number of environmental difficulties and advantages, A Watershed 12 months informs and educates all those that skilled the 2008 floods and all these eager about the bigger reasons of flooding.

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Additional info for A Watershed Year: Anatomy of the Iowa Floods of 2008 (Bur Oak Book)

Sample text

For any location in the basin, we can roughly estimate the time that it takes for water in the river network to reach the basin outlet. Figure 2-5 (also plate 12) shows the Cedar and Iowa River basins above Cedar Rapids and Marengo (the Coralville Reservoir), with their zones of water travel time. With this map in mind, you can imagine that the water you watch at one point on a river is the sum of the runoff generated hours or days earlier from multiple upstream locations. Now imagine that when a single storm hits Charles City, Cedar Rapids residents will observe its stormwater flow about four days later.

Reservoirs reduce downstream flooding by intercepting flood waves and storing water temporarily, releasing it at a lower rate over an extended period of time. However, if inflows fill the reservoir, its storage is depleted and the dam’s emergency spillway will eventually be overtopped, an event that happened with the Coralville Reservoir on June 10. At this time, the dam lost much of its ability to regulate downstream flows and flooding. Once the spillway was overtopped, the reservoir’s large discharge caused additional problems downstream, where the Iowa River’s flow was high enough to prevent its tributary Clear Creek from discharging its own flood flows into the Iowa River.

Overall, the impact of the 1993 flooding was significantly more widespread. Flooding affected not only Iowa but also portions of Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin (see figure 1-6). That flood ranks among the biggest in both the upper Mississippi and lower Missouri River valleys. In contrast, the impact of the 2008 flooding was most severe in Iowa and Wisconsin, although the flooding also affected portions of Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

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