An Iowa State University researcher working to develop better flood forecasting says this weekend’s storm systems illustrate the difficulty in making such predictions.  

“We kind of dodged a bullet the last couple of days,” says Chris Anderson, assistant director of Iowa State University’s Climate Science Initiative. “The forecasts coming out of the Weather Service had a very high likelihood of a lot of rain. They just missed. They went south of us near Kansas City and in southeastern Nebraska and so my area of research that’s related to that is to understand how the local storms get organized so that maybe we can improve our ability to say an event will occur in Iowa as opposed to Kansas City.”

Anderson is among those speaking later this afternoon at a seminar in Cedar Rapids to discuss the floods of 2008 and how to best prepare for future flooding. Anderson will deliver a briefing on recent changes in precipitation patterns in Iowa and the Midwest. “I will also talk about how that relates to climate change, if it does at all,” Anderson says. “And it does just a tiny bit, as far as we can tell, and then what the prospects are for continuing into the future the changes that we’ve seen in the last 15 to 20 years.” 

Anderson says his goal as a researcher is to help develop a system for issuing long-term flood forecasts, giving people an idea of the likelihood there will be flooding in a particular area in the next three or four months.