Friday, July 27, 2012

Record-breaking rainfall

North Fork of the Little Maquoketa
(click to enlarge)
Image courtesy of Chel H.
It may be hard to believe, but last year at this time the tri-state area was dealing with aftermath of record-breaking rainfall.

On the evening of July 27th, a frontal boundary stalled along the Highway 20 corridor, spawning a series of thunderstorms that inundated the tri-states with record rainfall. Here at the library, we watched the streets outside the library flood briefly and momentarily lost power. Lightening struck and damaged the Bishop's Block Building downtown, but the library escaped with little damage, especially compared to many others in Dubuque, East Dubuque and the surrounding area.

While we're no strangers to flash floods and extreme weather here, the July 27-28 event broke six rainfall records for Dubuque, including the most rainfall ever recorded in a 24-hour period (10.62 inches; previous record of 8.96 in 2002), most rainfall recorded in July (16.01 inches; previous record of 12.68 in 2010) and most rainfall recorded in a single month (16.01 inches, previous record of 15.46 inches in 1965). It also caused the Mississippi River to rise four feet in 12 hours, caused an estimated $2 million in damage, left many homeless and resulted in one fatality.

Mississippi River level
(click to enlarge)
Image courtesy of NOAA
The National Climatic Data Center collects and publishes storm data from around the nation, including observations from weather spotters, photographs and illustrations. To read the report for the July 27-28, 2011 event, visit the NDCD's Storm Data Publication website, and select 2011-07. A .pdf report will be created; information from the event begins on page 180.

For news accounts, the library offers access to past issues of the Telegraph Herald to regular card holders. Just go to our Research Databases page and select NewsBank. Login with your library card number and PIN, and then select Telegraph Herald from the list of available newspapers. Click here for a list of selected articles about the event (login required to view articles).

And for a look back at some extreme weather events - from Union park to the floods of 1965, 1993 and 2008 - check out these books:
17th Street Flood by cypotter

Dubuque flood (behind John Deere) by ZimmyBuffett

Sources: National Climatic Data Center, NOAA, National Weather Service, and the Telegraph Herald.

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