Flooding Hits Historic 500-Year Levels in Iowa


Now can someone tell me if the article is purporting that the current flood levels are at 500 year HIGHS? If that is so, how would they know? 500 years ago puts you at 1508. In 1508 there was no white man in North America and I doubt that the Indians kept flood level records!

They determine those levels by studying the sediments in the vicinity of the river or other flow way in question. I understand that flood-deposited sediments are distinctive.

:rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:

No, it actually has nothing to do with time. 500 year flood is a hydrologic term that has to do with probability. Here is an explanation of a 100 year flood from wiki:


BTW, the last 500 year flood we had in Iowa was just 15 years ago!


Here is an even better explanation:


Oh, okay. True. My explanation was not sufficiently complete. I focused on the “how do we know”, not on the timing. I’m still not sure the OP literally meant there had to have been a flood of equal volume in 1508. But perhaps so.

We are getting our May weather in June.

Very often the media gets it wrong. An expert is interviewed by the media and says (500 year flood). Then the reporter say biggest flood in 500 years. Since the last flood of this magnitude was in 1993, the year 1508 would mean nothing.

The OP may have got it wrong or they read a media report that got it wrong.


The National Weather Service called it a “historic” flood, meaning water levels have never been recorded this high. The levee in Cedar Rapids was built to 100 year flood specifications, but despite an additional 4 feet of sandbags piled atop it, the water still came over. The water in downtown Cedar Rapids is 6 feet above the levee.

Thanks for the link Nohome. This makes a LOT of sense. I remember that flooding in 1993 as 540 Catholics from Toronto had to cross that area for World Youth Day in Denver Colorado (travelling by bus).

Does this flooding exceed that one?

Yes, the flooding in Cedar Rapids exceeds the 1993 flood. Water levels have never been seen this high.

For people interested in reading more about the Cedar Rapids flood, here is the website of our local newspaper. It has several articles:

I am in Ames. We were hit much harder in 1993, but many homes were demolished and not replaced after that event. Of course, that occurred on July 9th, so there is still plenty of storm season left. Still Ames has been largely spared so far.

I pray for my fellow Iowans in Cedar Rapids and I’ll send a check as soon as I get home. The flood of 93 was a defining moment in my life as we lost all our worldly possessions. I know these words are little comfort, but I’ve been there and I can tell you that it does get better. Though I’ve never been comfortable in heavy rains ever since.


I wasn’t trying to suggest that 93 was worse than this year, just that it was in the same order of magnitude, that being a 500 year event.


Nohome, I was replying to ChildofMary who asked:

Does this flooding exceed that one?

I guess, I should have quoted her. Sorry.

BTW, the link I gave before is good for stories, but if people want to see photos or videos the homepage for the Gazette is best:

I just returned safely to Iowa. Flying into Des Moines I could see the vast areas of flooding. On the ground I encountered 5 mph traffic as all the cars tried to cross the few open bridges. So far Des Moines is O.K., but they are on the ruddy edge. Let’s pray for a day without rain.


Has the flooding affected the corn crops?
We need corn for both food and fuel.

Yes, but not just the flooding. We have had a wet spring and much of the corn was planted late, which will reduce yields. Moreover, until recently temperatures have been below normal so the corn has been developing slowly, on top of being planted late. The flooding, of course, wipes out many fields.

About one-quarter of Iowa’s soybean acres and at least 8 percent of the state’s corn either have not been seeded or will need replanting due to flooding, an Iowa State University agronomist said in an interview on Friday.


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