Iowans warned to expect recurring flooding
by Perry Beeman
Iowans will eventually see more severe flooding every few years because of new flood risks, including rain patterns altered by climate change, the National Wildlife Federation said Tuesday.
"Big storms we expected to see every 20 years should be expected every four to six years by end of century," said Amanda Staudt, a climate scientist for the federation who led a news teleconference Tuesday on the issue.
The group said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is giving Iowans a false sense of security about the potential for future flooding, even as they have struggled with this year's record damage. The corps' latest flood-frequency projections, completed in 2004, did not anticipate more intense rainfall predicted because of climate change and underestimated how high water would rise during floods, the group said.
A spokesman for the Army Corps said that the group's assertions were not based on solid research and that the flood projections the corps uses are sound.
During Tuesday's teleconference, Southern Illinois University geologist Nicholas Pinter said that Iowa's Flood of '93 should have been called a 90-year flood, not a 500-year flood.
He also said the corps' study underestimated the flood stage at St. Louis by 4.5 feet because it didn't take into account the heavier future rains predicted by climatologists.
"These aren't random events," Pinter said, noting there have been four major floods in the last 35 years. "We are getting a systematic series of floods" that are more frequent and severe than predicted by the corps' models, he said.
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