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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 1, 2011

UI teams up with Iowa City, National Weather Service to better prepare for floods

A partnership between the Iowa Flood Center (IFC) at the University of Iowa, the City of Iowa City and the National Weather Service (NWS) has resulted in the posting of easy-to-use Iowa City flood inundation maps on the NWS website.

They are designed to help Iowa City area residents and business owners better prepare for flooding and anticipate how different flood levels might affect their homes and other property.

The maps can be viewed at the NWS website at (scroll down to Quad Cities, Iowa).

The high-resolution maps make use of an interactive Google Maps-based online application, so that users can see the results of a variety of predicted Iowa River flood levels.

In developing the maps, Iowa Flood Center researchers used bathymetric surveys, supplemented by aerial LiDAR (laser radar) data of the riverbed, to determine the shape of the channel and the flood plains. Armed with this information, they created detailed maps of river corridors to illustrate where floodwaters will go under different upstream flow conditions.

Nathan Young, IFC associate director and lead investigator on the development of floodplain maps, said improving flood preparedness is one of the IFC's key goals.

"This is an opportunity for us to produce research that is useful and meaningful for Iowans," he said. "Our maps demonstrate not just a 100-year flood or a 500-year flood, but also the extent of the flooded landscape with every 6-inch rise in the flood level. We believe this information will empower communities and individuals to make informed decisions about their flood risks."

NWS Central Region Director Lynn Maximuk praised the partnership efforts. "The Iowa Flood Center and the City of Iowa City are strongly committed to enhancing community safety," he said. "We are proud to partner with them to help make these valuable maps more accessible."

Funding for the posting of these inundation maps was provided in large part by the City of Iowa City.

Rick Fosse, Iowa City public works director, said the maps are very important to the safety of the community. "Making sophisticated flood maps widely available to Iowa City residents and community leaders is an invaluable tool in helping each of us to be informed about our specific flood risks," Fosse said.

Similar IFC flood inundation map libraries currently are available online for Cedar Rapids, Charles City, Des Moines, Hills, Iowa City and Waterloo on the IFC website, IFC plans call for more communities to be mapped in the future.

The IFC is part of IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering, a unit of the UI College of Engineering, and is located in the C. Maxwell Stanley Hydraulic Laboratory. Now in its third year of operation, the IFC is supported by state appropriations to improve flood monitoring and prediction in the state of Iowa.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Carmen Langel, Iowa Flood Center, 319-321-8415 (cell), 319-335-5841 (office),; Gary Galluzzo, University News Services, 319-384-0009,