Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Forecast Contrast...Sunny and Flooding

When you have wall-t0-wall sunshine and might be living in central Iowa. This situation happened in 2008 and now again in the floods of 2010.

Thankfully we have seen the clear skies and rain has been choked off to the west and south. It has allowed the rivers to slowly go down in northern Iowa. From Saylorville to the Red Rock Reservoir... we are still waiting for the peak river levels after the emergency spillway is allowed to spill-over tomorrow morning.

There is still a chance for rain on the 4th of July. This will do more to worry folks. This round of rain does not look heavy like the rainfall events that lead to the flooding this year.

You will see some video over the next several days of the historic 1993 flood in Des Moines. It was a benchmark for flooding in the U.S. It is also a major moment my 25 year career. Just one of those times you have in life that will be a story to tell for the rest of your life.

In 1993 I was one of the few who volunteered to stay at the station as flood waters took over the Des Moines Grand Prix. The race was stopped because water from the Des Moines an Raccoon Rivers started to lap up on the course downtown.

As the night progressed... I had to get on the air and tell all of Des Moines that the Water Works Station was flooded and water would be shut off to the city. I never guessed that would be the beginning of the most significant weather event in my career.

All the staff was called out. Everyone started pouring in the reports as the river water poured over the streets of Des Moines.

The first shift that June 10th was 30 hours. No water. No power. Only limited lights, a hand-held mic and one camera.

Our viewers...neighbors are the best. People volunteered everything to help others in need. Strangers were sleeping on the floor of other's family rooms. Other cities in the metro opened their arms and resources to Des Moines.

You really can't imagine what flood water does to a building. I would rather have a house blown apart by a tornado than to try to salvage a home that had water standing to the roof-line.

We are praying that this time round the flooding is not what it was in '93 and '08.

Thanks to all those who are and have been working to make sure history does not repeat.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Soaking...Stormy Sunday

Just watching the amazing amounts of rainfall this early morning in northern Iowa and now keeping watch over the watches and warnings in central Iowa.

The severe weather crawl has not stopped since the evening news last night. The flash flood warnings, severe thunderstorms warnings and watches for floods and storms has been pumping into the weather office all night.

Pea sized hail just whipped into Waukee with wind gusts near 45 mph. The NBC satellite feed has been interrupted through the last few minutes with the heavy rainfall and high wind. Your sleep was possibly interrupted too.

The seriousness of the flooding is really overwhelming. Saylorville is filling up fast. We are expected to see levels around 890 feet by the end of the week. That is within 2 feet of the all-time record set in 1993.

Counties in northern Iowa..including Webster, Hamilton and Humboldt have been underwater for days. One heavy rainfall event after another has washed out gravel roads and bridges...and has closed A couple highways over that area of the state.

More heavy rain fall is expected through this morning...but then we are looking at a string of drier days next week.

The Des Moines Arts Festival was punished with high wind and high heat Friday night and Saturday. Now this line of thunderstorms will be knocking over the stands and artwork through about 6 AM.

Please watch for the rising river levels in your area. Flooding is going to be with us through the next several days. Any area that is prone to flooding is going to flood.

Lots of coverage of the storms will hit the air through the next several days. Let us know what you are seeing and send us your pictures of flooding and possible damage from the storms tonight.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Water Runs Downhill

You fight science. Water runs downhill.

All the rain...over 5 north central Iowa is running down river to central Iowa. The flood warnings are going to stay intact through most of the weekend.

We are most concerned with the Raccoon and Des Moines River basins. Those rivers are going to be above the flood stage through Monday. We will be watching those rising rivers under sunny skies.

Updated River Levels

You can find information in each river in central Iowa. The river gauges connected on the NWS hydrology site. All flood warnings and how each flood stage affects each area is also listed.

Keep it in your favorite weather book marks. It is great information....right here:

Hot June

Yesterday we hit a heat index of 108. The temperature was 92 and the dew point temperature was 78. It is unusual to see this kind of summer heat in June...but this month our temperatures have been at or above normal for 33 straight days. This is the 16th longest heat streak on record....and the 3rd time of such a run of heat during spring to summer.

Afternoon Storms

There is plenty of sunshine right now...but there is also enough humidity in the air and water feeding it from the ground. The instability issue could give us a chance for isolated storms early this afternoon.

There is a very slight chance for strong storms... but we can't call it "all clear" until we get into the late afternoon.

More Storms Over Weekend

It will be great the next couple of days...but more thunderstorms are on the way for the weekend. Storms will be strong again late Saturday into early Sunday.

Friday, June 18, 2010

High Wind Sirens

Did the tornado siren go off in your neighborhood this morning?
The tornado sirens are now programmed to sound when we have reports of 70 mph in severe thunderstorms.
It is disconcerting to hear the sirens when you see ominous clouds like the pictures above. It will be interesting to see how many folks thought a tornado was in their neighborhood as the high wind moved through today.
It is so important to stay away from windows and move to the interior or lower levels of the building you are in during a tornado. It is also important to take similar precautions with very strong wind events. Debris can blow through windows in severe thunderstorms...just like tornadoes.
The skies will clear a bit this afternoon...then more chances for strong storms later today. It does not look like the storms will be as severe as the first storms today.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Forecast Frustration

Are you looking at the heavy rain over the metro this morning and wondering...What the heck is going on?!
I'm watching the heavy downpour outside the window of my home office. The rain pouring off the freshly painted west side of my house. The painters could only get to the west and north sides of my home yesterday. Right about now they are pulling up to the curb at my home to sit in their truck and wait for this rain to pull out and hopefully get to work after some drier weather later today.
The new gutters for our house will go up Monday... if the painters are finished by then. Timing is everything.
The severe potential over the state is in the moderate risk zone today. That means we will have about a 10% chance of tornadoes within 25 miles of any point later today and tonight. The Storm Prediction Center now rates the risk of severe weather with percentage chance of tornadoes and damaging wind.
I will tell you the heat and humidity through the day will move along a warm front this morning and then really fire up along a cold front late tonight. The wind is going to be strong in this area and that could spin up extremely large thunderstorms with a chance for tornadoes late in the day and overnight.
Be ready... I'll be on the air keeping you updated all night. My wife will be sitting beside our sump pump making sure it continues to keep our basement dry as heavy rain falls off the gutter-less roof of the weather guy's house.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

UPDATE...Moderate Risk of Severe Weather!

The Storm Prediction Center has upgraded the western 1/2 of Iowa for a moderate level of severe weather risk.
The air over the state is rich in moisture and heat with a strong storm system that is moving into the Nebraska/Iowa area later today.
Right now we are "capped" with warmer air aloft. That means we need to cool off that area above the surface to really see strong thunderstorms. We are expecting that to happen later this afternoon and evening. This will increase the chance for damaging wind...severe storms and tornadoes later today through tonight.
Expect a watch for severe thunderstorms or tornadoes to be issued in the western counties by this evening.
Keep your NOAA all-hazards weather radio on and stay with us Channel 13.1 and Iowa's Weather Plus at Channel 13.2. Also watch for all warnings and watches on

Severe Weather Possible This Afternoon-Evening

There is a good chance for showers and thunderstorms later today that could be severe over central Iowa.
The strong storms could also drop a ton of rainfall on central and northern Iowa.
1" to 2" of rain is possible in the metro area. Heavier amounts are expected north of Des Moines.
I think the biggest threat will be the heavy rainfall. There is a chance for strong to severe wind..but this storm in riding along a warm front. The cooler air will pass through overnight. Warm fronts are not to be trusted for severe weather. The warm front usually gives the heavy rainfall.
More rain is expected tomorrow and again toward the end of the week. The heaviest rainfall will come early in the week.
What a great weekend for Memorial Day activities.
I was on Saylorville Lake this weekend. The weather could not habe been much better. The fun-loving folks were out in large numbers. Hope everyone made it home safe. Lots of weekends to come this summer. Let's have fun and keep it safe and sane.