Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Data suggests Iowa really is getting wetter

Orlan Love for KCRG (Iowa): Muddy rivers, moldy classrooms, swarming mosquitoes, blighted tomatoes and effulgent quack grass will be mere annoyances in Iowa’s new era of serial cloudbursts.

Unless Iowans adjust dramatically to more extreme precipitation and flooding, they can expect more swamped crops, failed dams, sub­merged cities and monolithic public institutions turned into indoor swim­ming pools, said Gov. Chet Culver, who recently dubbed the chronically wet conditions plaguing Iowa as ‘the new normal.’ It’s an assessment shared by other public officials and Iowa climate scientists. ‘It’s just something we are going to have to deal with, and we’d better adjust in all ways that we can," Culver said earlier this month, following the Maquoketa River dam failure that drained Lake Delhi.

"We need to face reality," said Kamyar En­shayan, director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Education at the University of Northern Iowa and a member of the Cedar Falls City Council. "There is significant, solid evidence that Iowa is experiencing a new normal in precipitation and flooding."

Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett, who is leading an effort to secure funding for flood-wall protection on both sides of the Cedar River, said he believes the research and evidence support increased precipitation causing more frequent and severe flooding. "My worst fear," he said, "is the kind of heavy, prolonged downpours that we have experienced in recent summers happening in the spring when the rivers are already full of snowmelt."…

A 2008 flood in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Shot by Matt Herzberger, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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