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University of Iowa Flood Center offers tool to monitor flooding

Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 11:30 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Recent storms in northern Iowa have led to threats of flooding, and the University of Iowa has a new tool that can update river levels in minutes.

Gabriele Villarini, an associate professor with the school’s hydraulics laboratory, uses the tool to study the rise of floods.

“It’s a web platform, freely accessible to anybody with web access,” Villarini said. “There is no login, very easy to access, and you can think of it as your one-stop-shop for all of your hydrometeorological needs.”

This tool can be accessed by residents and businesses. Rick Wulfekuhle, the Buchannan County Emergency Management Agency’s coordinator, was among those using it over the past few days.

“We look at what the projections are, we kind of give our best guess estimate,” Wulfekuhle said. “But then we can take that flood model, we open it up, and we say ‘okay,’ we drag our finger across and scroll down a little bit and say what’s affected.”

The tool can calculate data all over eastern Iowa and has 300 sensors to measure real-time river levels that update every 15 minutes.

“Otherwise, you’re blinded, over-reliant on first responders, which is still another good tool, there are boots and eyes on the ground,” Wulfekuhle said.

Even with the Wapsipinicon River expected to crest somewhat lower than originally forecast, Walfekuhle is still reminding people to stay safe and avoid the water.

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