Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Perfect RAGBRAI Day

This was a great day for the riders on RAGBRAI. In fact...this has been a pretty decent weather week for the trek across northern Iowa.
The pictures today came from Iowa State Patrol Trooper Doug Cutts. Trooper Cutts has been on the route most of the week. He has taken the time to send in some great pictures. I love the dude with the crazy duds. It sums up the party theme of RAGBRAI.
Trooper Cutts said the ride was nearly perfect the bike pile-ups as some of the riders were following too close to one another. Yesterday Trooper Cutts said the problem was dehydration. Several of the bikers went down because they were not taking in as much water as needed as the heat index temperatures reached the triple digits.
I appreciate the work that Trooper Cutts puts in on the ride...and all through the year. Today was Iowa State Patrol Day on RAGBRAI. Thanks to all the law enforcement for keeping the riders safe.
Thursday is going to be spectacular for the riders. The wind will be light...out of the northwest around 5 mph. It will be sunny, but the humidity will be very low. Highs are expected to reach the lower 80s.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Friends of Luke

Under a few shelter houses this weekend were a few dozen folks who were gathered to walk for the memory of Luke and to raise money for students who need scholarships for college.

Luke Simmons was a 24 year old who grew up in the Des Moines area and was killed by a lightning strike on July 27, 2007. Luke was on a trail run near Denver, Colorado training for the Colorado Relay. A fast moving storm system moved in over the route and a lightning strike took the life of Luke.

This past Saturday a friend of Luke's family asked if I would give a brief talk about lightning safety before the walk. It was dry at the Raccoon River Park in West Des Moines as those friends and family gathered to honor Luke's memory and his passion for fitness and the outdoors. I took a few minutes to remind those people that any place outside is dangerous when lightning is close. If you can hear thunder need to go indoors. Lightning can strike from up to 10 miles away. When you hear thunder...go indoors until 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder is heard. Just the basics of lightning safety.

Listening were Luke's parents, Jim and Kathy Simmons. They are so gracious and their love for Luke has blossomed into an opportunity to help others.

Friends of Luke have raised thousands of dollars over the past four years for students that need scholarships for college.

ACE Mentoring of Iowa, Climb Iowa/Grubb YMCA High Achievers Program and the Colorado Relays/Outward Bound program. Were the recipients of this year's walk in West Des Moines. Another event is planned for Colorado.

My heart goes out to Jim and Kath Simmons. No one can imagine loosing a child. The Simmons' work has made a big difference in the lives of many other young people around Iowa and Colorado.

I put the web address for Team Luke on the blog tonight in hopes you would take a minute to visit.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Indianola Tornado

Tornadoes ripped through the northwest corner of Indianola last night. There were several homes damaged along Euclid Avenue on the northwest side of town. Barns and homes were also damaged near the intersection of R63 and Hoover Street.
The pictures you see on this blog came from our viewers. There are many more on the weather page of you can see them on the Photolinks Used On The Air button.
A survey crew from the National Weather Service will hit the area tomorrow and see how strong the tornadoes were and how long they were on the ground.
Massive flooding is still a threat tonight. We will have the last wave of storms moving through the state. Severe weather will not be the biggest issue. I'm talking tornadoes...there could be severe storms with damaging wind. The larger threat is the risk for flash flooding. 1" to 2" of rainfall an hour is possible.
Look for more pictures of the damage in Indianola.
Stay aware of the severe weather overnight with channel 13 and 13.2....Iowa's Weather Plus.
Stay safe...see you next week.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

These are pictures from Fort Dodge this morning. Heavy rainfall with over 6 inches in some areas of northwestern Iowa has produced massive flooding.
The top picture is from the Kemna Motors company. You can see the cars for sale with water up to the doors. The second picture is of a flooded intersection. Cars are stalled in the intersection.
Here are some rainfall totals from the storms last night:
5.00" (In three hours) Ft. Dodge
4.80" Webster City
4.20" Manson (Calhoun County)
3.18" Iowa Falls
3.16" Orange City
2.90" Clarion
2.74" Sioux City
There was also significant damage from the storms in Pocahontas last night. Around 2:30 this morning a building at the local CO-OP elevator was badly damaged and an implement shed was taken apart. Large trees were knocked down as the storm moved through the northwest Iowa town. A survey crew has been dispatched by the National Weather Service to see if the damage was the result of straight-line wind or tornadoes.
We knew the heaviest rainfall would be in the northwest corner of the state. It also looked like Des Moines would not see much rainfall...but it was a surprise that we stayed completely dry.
There is a flash flood watch still in effect for much of northern Iowa. A heat advisory is in effect for the southern portion of the state until 8 tonight. Heat index temperatures will reach 100 to 110 in counties south of Interstate 80.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Heavy Rain Tonight

OK...are you ready to be freaked out? That map is a forecast of the expected rainfall tonight through tomorrow morning.
I shows some areas picking up 9 inches of rainfall over west-central Iowa! This is the area that has not seen the heaviest rainfall over the past few days...but it also has the Raccoon and Des Moines River Basins that move the water to the Des Moines Metro.
Before you call Home Depot for a delivery of wood for your arc... I do not think we will see 9 inches of rainfall over that area tonight. I do think there could be up to 3 inches in that region. The extra rain is going to cause flooding.
You might have heard the Army Corps of Engineers at Saylorville Reservoir report that the gates that are along the emergency spillway will not go up. The big air bags that lift the gates are cracked and will not hold air.
If we get the 3 inches of rainfall...the reservoir should have enough extra room for the run-off. If we receive 8 or 9 inches of rainfall tonight north of Saylorville... all bets are off.
No severe thunderstorm watches were out for the area this morning. That could change this evening. Some of the storms tonight could produce damaging wind, large hail and dangerous lightning. Another flash flood watch is also possible.
Stay tuned to WHO HD 13.1 and Iowa's Weather Plus...13.2 today and tonight. Keep those NOAA weather radios with you tonight.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More Flooding

The rain just keeps coming. We are expecting more thunderstorms through the day and overnight that will leave another more of southern Iowa under water.

So far this morning we have seen amazing rainfall totals.

Allerton (Wayne County) 4.15"
Near Plano (Appanoose County) 4.50"
Chariton (Lucas County) 4.80"
Promise City (Wayne County) 5.72"
Centerville (Appanoose County) 7.10"
Seymour (Wayne County) 7.50"

Many roads are still under water this morning. There will be some improvement as the water recedes a bit this afternoon...but more rain is moving into the area.

Please have your NOAA weather radios ready to warn you. Many of these storms will be strong to severe overnight tonight and again tomorrow night. Keep the weather radio with you during the day and with you when you are sleeping. The alarm should be set for your specific county and will keep you safe in the event of severe weather while you sleep.

Tornado/High Wind Sirens

As we all watched severe weather move through the state over the weekend...many were asking about the number of times the sirens were going off in their neighborhoods.

The water cooler talk yesterday included many who were frustrated that sirens were sounded as many as three times late Saturday and early Sunday morning. Many of those folks said they were without power and could not watch coverage of the storms. (((They did not have their battery powered NOAA weather radios at hand.)))

The sirens in Polk County are now going to sound every time there is a tornado warning and each time we have wind gusts at or above 70 MPH. It is new policy that has been used two times this summer.

The National Weather Service in Johnston has received so many calls and emails about the sirens they posted information on the outdoor siren system, the letter from the Polk County Emergency Management that explains the high wind warnings, and frequently asked questions about weather sirens.

Here are the links:

Here is my take...

I think a tornado siren needs to be a tornado siren. We only, on the average year, hear the siren go off in our neighborhoods 5 to 15 times. It is such an important part of our outdoor warning system. It is too much for folks to expect different events to be warned by the same siren that has been used for tornado warnings since Word War II.

High wind warnings need to have a different signal. Maybe three short blasts on the siren...a different sound that would make sure folks in the area would know this was a warning for wind gusts over 70 mph.

The Best Answer.....

We have...for years...asked our viewers to get the NOAA weather radios in their homes and in their cars. This is really the best way to be warned about tornadoes, high wind, flash flooding and other environmental hazards in your specific area.

We have partnered with the Science Center of Iowa and Fairway Stores to make sure the portable...hand-held...battery and electric powered weather radios are available at a reasonable price.

Get one now and make sure you are ready when the storms hit and power is out.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dangerous Heat Index Temperatures

What a scorcher today! You did not even want to step outside...forget working or playing in the heat index temperatures of 110+

Des Moines had a heat index of 115 this afternoon. The actual temperate reached 96 degrees...but the dew point temperature was 80. That is an extremely high dew point. We rarely see that kind of moisture...even in the most sultry summer months.

The all-time record high dew point was 87 in Cedar Rapids...July 13, 1995. That is a big deal to weather geeks. The extreme moisture over Iowa can produce life-threatening weather for man and beast. Cattle farmers watch for temperatures in the 80s and 90s over dew points in the 70s as anything warmer adds extreme stress in their livestock.

Below you will find a list of the highest dew point on record...

and Temp ..................... Record Dew Point and Date

Ames 81 ... Record...84-29 Jul 1999 1997

Burlington 81... Record...82-29 Jul 1999 1973

Dubuque 80... Record...82-13 Jul 1995 1973

Cedar Rapids 80... Record...87-13 Jul 1995 1973

Davenport 77... Record...83-29 Jul 1999 1997

Des Moines 80... Record... 84- 6 Sep 1998 1970

Esterville 78... Record...83-29 Jul 1999 1997

Iowa City 80... Record...84-20 Aug 1998 1997

Marshalltown 81...Record...83-29 Jul 1999 1997

Mason City 81... Record...83-29 Jul 1999 1961

Ottumwa 81... Record...82-18 Jul 1996 1973

Spencer 79... Record...82-29 Jul 1999 1973

Waterloo 82... Record...83-29 Jul 1999 1970

Sioux City 80...Record...83-22 Jul 2005 1961

I picked up the kids from Vacation Bible School at Hope Lutheran at noon today. The cold air-conditioning combined with the moisture outside to complete fog up the doors to the church. It was fogging up my glasses from the car to the church.

There are going to be more strong storms tonight... some severe...but the humidity will be cut out with the cold front. Thursday will be warm...but the humid air will be absent.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Flood Insurance

Flood insurance is back. The congress voted the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) back into action last week.

For a time... flood insurance was not available. The NFIP was allowed to expire. It takes a vote of congress for the insurance to be available.

This site will take you to the information you need to purchase flood insurance and who can provide it to you.

More rain is on the way tonight and tomorrow. The heaviest rainfall is expected during the day Wednesday. 1 inch totals will be common.

By Thursday afternoon the rain will move out and we will be under sunny skies with less humidity Friday and Saturday.

More rain returns for the end of the weekend and next week.