Faulty Gauge Leads To Too-High Crest Forecast in Cedar Rapids

By Rick Smith, Reporter

Water from the Cedar River flows under the First Avenue Bridge as the Veterans Memorial Building can be seen in the background Saturday, June 1, 2013, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette-KCRG)

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By Aaron Hepker

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A faulty river gauge in the Cedar River at Waterloo provided a river level 0.9 feet higher Friday than the actual river height and, as a result, led to an overly high flood forecast downstream in Cedar Rapids, the National Weather Service office in the Quad Cities said Saturday.

The U.S. Geological Survey discovered the misreading late Friday morning, and the National Weather Service subsequently reanalyzed its river data and lowered its river level forecast for Cedar Rapids, Andy Ervin, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in the Quad Cities, explained on Saturday afternoon.

Friday evening, the Cedar River was forecast to crest in Cedar Rapids on Sunday afternoon at 19.8 feet, the fourth highest level in the city’s history and second highest level since 1929. The city’s flood disaster of 2008 saw the river climb to 31.12 feet.

By Saturday morning, the National Weather Service had lowered the Cedar Rapids crest forecast to 18.5 feet with the projection that it will arrive late Saturday or early Sunday.

Ervin said a lack of rain on Friday above Cedar Rapids in the Cedar River watershed had been forecast and so has not changed the river crest prediction.
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