Iowa Flood Center making strides in research - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa Flood Center making strides in research

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - Since last July, researchers at the Iowa Flood Center have been studying and gathering data from rivers and streams across the state. Their goal is to be the ultimate resource for information on flooding and river levels, and make that information easy for anyone to understand.

Forecasters can predict how high rivers will rise, but Dr. Witold Krajewksi, director, says those predictions are sometimes difficult for the average person to understand. That's why he and other researchers are creating new maps of Iowa waters.

"Using those maps, people can translate those forecasts into information that will help them to make individual decisions," said Krajewski.

One map shows boundaries for individual water basins, and where they flow. Another gives a detailed outline of how much dry land a stream will cover as is rises.

"Not just the large rivers, but also the smaller streams and rivers that may affect different communities," Krajewski explained. "They're zoomable, and one can go to the level of detail of a single block, and nearly a single house."

There's even a flood risk calculator, which tells the likelihood of a flood over a period of time, depending on its severity. That feature can only be used in Iowa City, but Dr. Krajewski says it will soon be available to other cities.

Lab researchers like Nick Sitter are also developing new devices that monitor stream levels.

"It's a really great experience," said Sitter, as he worked on a new kind of water level sensor, developed in-house. 50 of these sensors are currently in production. Once installed on area bridges, they'll send measurements back to a website on a regular basis.

Dr. Krajewski says while that information will be easily accessible online, he says researchers may take it a step further. They could create cell phone applications, which would alert drivers if they're approaching flooded bridges. The Iowa Flood Center is also trying to develop a network of sensors, for measuring ground saturation.

"Our nation does not have such a network, so we would be on the cutting-edge."

It's a sign that this lab is making great strides in flood research that anyone can use.

You can visit their website at www.iowafloodcenter.org.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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