Flood Watch Program

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Flood Inundation Tools

Computer modeling can help estimate the time at which the flood will happen at a specific location as well as its approximate depth. Another tool is the Iowa Flood Information System (IFIS) which allows users to access a web platform providing Ames-based flood conditions, forecasts, and inundation maps. Users are able to enter predicted river levels into the platform and view maps of inundated property. 

To access the IFIS tool, click here.

To access the IFIS tutorial, click here.

PLEASE -- Do NOT call the Police Dispatch or 911 unless there is a threat to your own life or someone else's.  They can easily get overwhelmed during a flood situation and must be available to respond to emergencies. 


Links to National Weather Service Information:

Squaw Creek at Lincoln Way

Skunk River at Riverside Drive (Near Ada Hayden Park)

Skunk River at Highway 30

Understanding The Predictions

The numbers provided by City staff or given over the radio correspond to the depth of water in the river. The depth is accurate for the specific site only! The predictive models used by the water plant engineers are based on a flow of water in the river, usually in cubic feet per second (cfs). The depth of the water varies based on the shape of the river basin. Where the river channel narrows, the depth of water for a given flow rate will be higher than in a location where the river is wider.

The flood prediction model estimates peaks for several locations in the basin. It is important to understand that a prediction of 14 feet on the Skunk River north of Ames is very different from a peak of 14 feet on the south side of town. If you live in a flood-prone area, you should listen carefully to the predictions and know in advance what levels may threaten your home or business.

City staff have compiled a list of past flood levels and the properties that were impacted. When using these lists, it is important to remember that every flood event is unique. The flood level at which a property is impacted can vary depending on the combined interaction of multiple streams, multiple rainfalls, log jams, and a variety of other situations. There are three lists shown below. Each of the lists corresponds to a specific United States Geological Survey (USGS) river gauge.

Projected Flooding Levels based on the Squaw Creek at Lincoln Way Gauge Readings

Current USGS Gauge Reading -- Squaw Creek at Ames

 Gauge Reading Squaw Creek Discharge cfs. Affect  Notes 
1.1 0 Dry Conditions  
2.5 250 Average flow  
6.5 2340 Below banks  
8.5+/- 3420 Bank full  
9.0 3700 Minor flooding  
10.4 4470 1204 S. 4th St; Riverside Manor Yard, field behind Quality Motors  
12.0 5850 428 Stonehaven Drive, apartments  
13.0 7484 S. 4th St. bridge; bottom of former Happy Joe's wall; Former site of bowling alley and movie theater  
13.2 7835 S. 5th St. apartments  
13.3 8015 6th & Brookside water over road through RR underpass  
13.8 8952 Tall Timber & Willow Run apts.  
14.0        9346 Water over South Duff


14.4 10170 Timbercreek & Plumwood Apts  
Water at the door of Riverside Manor   
14.70   South 4th and University blocked off  
15.0 11550    
15.1 11710 Scheman & Hilton Coliseum  
15.3 12180    
15.5 12650 ISU -- Wallace Road closed  
15.52   South 5th Apartments Flooding  
15.68   Close South Duff, Reroute South 16th/Water to building at Target  
15.8 13390 Water over Lincoln Way & Elwood  
16.4 14960 Maple/Willow/Larch  
17.1 16920 ISU Rec Center  
17.3 17510 Stange Road overtopped  
18.5 24300           
Skunk River 24.71 Feet  Eastbound Hwy 30 Closed  



Past Floods in Ames

 6-2018 flooding Brookside
Brookside Park, June 15, 2018

Flood 2010 Furman Aquatic Center
Furman Aquatic Center, 2010

  Flood of 2008 showing several cars underwater near apartment buildings in Ames
Apartments on South Fifth Street, 2008


Ames Police Officer speaking with residents in front of flooded S. Duff in the Flood of 2008
South Duff Avenue, 2008


Flood of 2008 aerial photo of South Duff on May 30, 2008
South Duff Avenue, 2008

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