10 years later: What led up to historic 2008 floods - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

10 years later: What led up to historic 2008 floods

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The pieces for the 2008 floods actually began coming together in 2007 with heavy rain falling that summer. During the following winter, the foundation for flooding continued to come together. 
 
Temperatures remained below normal for much of the winter. That typically does not mean much, however December 2007 through February 2008 all registered as above normal months for snowfall. The large amounts of snow that fell across the state lingered into early spring due to the below normal temperatures. Small, yet frequent, snow events tracked through during the month of March – which would be the only month with below normal precipitation in Iowa. 
 
Additionally, as the snow and ice melted with the eventual warming temperatures, ice jams caused some central Iowa flooding in early spring. Once we finally started feeling like spring, the ground was saturated. Then, April ended with a record breaking amount of rain in Waterloo. 
 
Numerous farmers did not plant crops until May. Snow melt and rain flowed into creeks and rivers, so crops were unable to absorb the water from the spring snow melt and rain.
 
Heavy rain returned to Iowa as a whole in late May. More than ten inches would then fall in parts of northeast Iowa in the first two weeks of June. In fact, the week ending June 1, 2008 ended up being the wettest week in more than 6 months.  
 
The weekend of June 7-8 brought severe weather to northeast Iowa. Hail, wind and even tornadoes all tracked through the area that Saturday and Sunday. But…areas in northeast Iowa saw up to 7 and a half inches of rain that weekend. 
 
All of that rain had to go somewhere…beginning June 9th. Record flooding in eastern Iowa occurred that next week. Major cities and small towns saw rivers rise to their highest levels on record. Even the University of Iowa was impacted. 
 
The Turkey, Cedar, Upper Iowa, Shell Rock, Wapsipinicon and other rivers across the state swelled to levels never seen before. Residential and business areas turned into ponds and lakes. 
 
Once the water subsided later in the month, the cleanup began. The numbers ran into the millions and billions across the state. For many locations, this type of flooding had a 0.2% chance of happening in any given year. That is what a “500-year flood” means (think 1/500). Regardless of the terminology this rare, historic and devastating flooding occurred in eastern Iowa in 2008. It would take months and for some years to recover from what some call one of the worst disasters in recent Iowa history. 

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