Floods are a rising and overflowing of the water in a river. They are natural events and have always existed throughout the world. In the US, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that flood disasters cause more loss of life and property than all other natural hazards. There is nothing we can do to stop floods or prevent them from taking place. Bu we can plan for their occurrence.
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:
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
|Gauge Reading Squaw Creek||Discharge cfs.||Affect||Notes|
|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|
|14.07||Water at the door of Riverside Manor|
|14.70||South 4th and University blocked off|
|15.1||11710||Scheman & Hilton Coliseum|
|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|
|17.1||16920||ISU Rec Center|
|17.3||17510||Stange Road overtopped|
|Skunk River||24.71 Feet||Eastbound Hwy 30 Closed|
We will do our best to keep the City's main webpage (www.cityofames.org) updated during an emergency, but the best sources of information will be on our local radio stations.
KCCQ 105 FM
KASI 1430 AM
WHO 1040 AM
Past Floods in Ames
Brookside Park, June 15, 2018
Furman Aquatic Center, 2010 Apartments on South Fifth Street, 2008
South Duff Avenue, 2008