January 7, 2008:
A strong storm system tracked out of the Plains and into the Midwest on
January 7, 2008. Record heat ahead of the system led to the development
of severe thunderstorms during the early morning hours. These storms
produced large hail in northeast Iowa and extreme northwest Illinois.
Later in the day, a major tornado outbreak occurred from southeast Wisconsin
January 20-22, 2008:
Low pressure in Kansas brought warmer south winds over a dome of arctic
air presiding across the region. As the low tracked along the Iowa/Missouri
border and to near Chicago, an optimum over-running situation developed.
The storm system was a slow mover, allowing for several episodes of fluffy
snow, January 20-22, 2008. Over this 2-day period, snowfall amounts ranged
from 3 to 9 inches along and north of Interstate 80. An indirect fatality
occurred on January 21 in Benton County on snow-covered I-380 in a multi-
January 29, 2008:
A strong cold front moving through the region on January 29, 2008 caused
a variety of wintery weather. Behind the front, temperatures fell more
than 40 degrees in less than 10 hours. In addition, up to an inch of snow
fell and combined with wind gusts to 50 to 55 mph, created near blizzard
conditions over most of the region. Many schools cancelled classes early
before the brunt of the weather arrived.
February 3, 2008:
On February 3, 2008 a strong upper air disturbance moving through Missouri,
produced an intense overrunning situation across the region. Many areas
of eastern Iowa, western Illinois and northeast Missouri reported
thundersnows. Snowfall rates of 2-3 inches per hour were observed with the
thunder and lightning. The snow fell in a 4 to 7 hour period during the
afternoon and evening hours. The heaviest band of snow fell in eastern
Iowa from What Cheer and North English to Davenport and Clinton, to Mount
Carroll, Illinois. The highest accumulation was 13 inches at What Cheer in
Keokuk County. Two indirect deaths occurred in Louisa County due to an
accident on a snow-covered county road.
February 5-6, 2008:
Intense low pressure brought near record snowfalls to the region on
February 5-6, 2008. Copious amounts of gulf moisture, combined with a
deepening storm system, resulted in periods of heavy snow and embedded
thundersnows. The surface low tracked from northwest Arkansas to southern
Illinois, while the deepening upper low moved into northern Illinois. The
snow fell for more than 24 hours dumping widespread 10 to 15 inch amounts
in portions of eastern Iowa and northwest Illinois. From southeast Iowa
to western Illinois 4 to 7 inches of snow accumulated. Lesser amounts were
noted in northeast Missouri. The highest total was near Winslow in Stephenson
County in Illinois with a whopping 18 inches. In some areas this was the
biggest snowfall since January 1979. Schools were closed and there were
many cars stuck in the deep snow or slid into ditches.
February 16-17, 2008:
A potent storm system journeyed from the southern Plains to western
Illinois and into Lower Michigan February 16-17, 2008. The track of
the storm brought significant amounts of snow, which was preceded by
freezing rain and sleet. The heaviest precipitation fell from extreme
northeast Missouri into northeast Iowa. Ice and sleet accumulations of
1/4 to 1/2 inch occurred west of I-380. Snow amounts of 6 to 8 inches
were common along and west of a line from Washington to Dubuque.
Snow Drifts – Norway, IA – Feb. 18, 2008
Courtesy: Richard Percifield
February 25-26, 2008:
Intensifying low pressure tracked from southern Nebraska to northern
Missouri to central Illinois on February 25-26, 2008. This storm system
brought widespread snow accumulations of 2 to 4 inches. However, portions
of northwest Illinois received 6 to 8 inches of snow.
March 6, 2008:
Record flooding occurred on the Rock River near Moline, Illinois on
March 6, 2008. The river was already experiencing major flooding due to
the combination of snow melt and heavy precipitation a few days earlier.
About 100 homes were evacuated due to the record flooding.
Rock River Ice Jam - March 6, 2008
Courtesy: Civil Air Patrol
March 27, 2008:
Low pressure tracked out of Colorado and into Missouri on March 27, 2008.
A warm front lifted northward into the region separating colder air to the
north and mild air to the south. This temperature contrast led to a variety
of weather conditions. North of a Belle Plaine, to Maquoketa, to Freeport
line 2 to 4 inches of snow fell. At Dubuque Iowa, a new record for seasonal
snowfall was established. Along the Interstate 80 corridor, thundersnows
were observed during the morning with isolated accumulations of around an
inch mainly on grassy surfaces. South of I-80, several reports of pea size
hail covering the ground up to a depth of one inch were received. One
thunderstorm became severe and dropped penny size hail near Letts, Iowa
in Louisa County.
The official NWS observer at Dubuque measured 4.4 inches of snow. This
established a new record for seasonal snowfall of 76.2 inches. The previous
seasonal snowfall record was 75.7 inches set during the 1961-62 season.
Major to near record flooding occurred during the month of April 2008.
Flooding continued at some locations from events that began in March,
and also continued into May. This particular flood event for most of
the region was the worst since 1997. Although the Flood of 2001 saw higher
crests on the Mississippi River, that flood affected primarily the
Mississippi River itself and only a few of its tributaries. This year's
flood event affected the Mississippi River as well as many of its
A series of moderate to record high rainfall events continued the flooding
at many locations that set flooding in motion at other locations. The most
notable heavy rainfall event occurred from April 24-25 when 5 or more inches
of rain fell from north central Iowa into southern Wisconsin. The Iowa,
Cedar, Wapsipinicon and Maquoketa River basins received the heaviest
rainfall. With soil moisture at or above the 95th percentile for that time
of year, much of the rainfall became runoff and quickly ran into streams
and creeks. The initial result was flash flooding especially across northeast
Iowa. The event then transitioned to a river flood event, with major to
near record crests experienced on the Cedar, Wapsipinicon and Maquoketa
Rivers. The Mississippi River also experienced major flooding. All forecast
points on the Mississippi River from Dubuque to Keokuk topped flood stage.
As of April 30th many forecast points continued seeing stages above flood
stage. Affected rivers included the Mississippi, Cedar, Iowa, Wapsipinicon
and the Maquoketa.
May 25-26, 2008:
Heavy rain-producing showers and thunderstorms moved across much of eastern
Iowa and northwest and west central Illinois from the evening of May 25th
to the early morning of May 26th. Some of the stronger storms also produced
tornadoes, damaging winds, and large hail. Buchanan, Delaware, and Dubuque
counties in Iowa were hardest hit with the heavy rains, where rainfall
totals of 3 to 8 inches fell resulting in flash flooding.
Major to record flooding occurred during the month of June 2008 with most
forecast points above flood stage for the majority of the month. The
flooding during this month was more prolific and severe than the flooding
in April 2008, and the flooding in April had been the most prolific flood
event since 1997.
While some locations were still experiencing flooding as June began, many
of the tributary rivers to the Mississippi in Iowa rose above flood stage
during the first few days of the month. At locations that were already
above flood stage, the rivers stopped their fall and began climbing again.
Persistent heavy rain from late May into early June resulted in record crests
on the Cedar and Iowa Rivers in Iowa as well as other tributary rivers to
the Mississippi River in eastern Iowa and southern Wisconsin. This resulted
in record flooding on parts of the Mississippi River, even exceeding flood
levels reached during the Great Flood of 1993 in some locations.
Both the Mississippi River and the Rock River rose above flood stage at
most locations around June 10th. Most locations on the tributary rivers
and the Mississippi River fell below flood stage during the last two-thirds
of the month.
The Cedar, Iowa and Mississippi Rivers were hardest hit by this flooding.
(The Mississippi River was most affected downstream of New Boston Lock
and Dam 17.) All forecast points on the Cedar and Iowa Rivers saw record
crests during the month. Three locations on the Mississippi River downstream
of New Boston Lock and Dam 17 saw record crests. In some locations, the new
record crests were considerably higher than the previous record crests. The
most significant example was the Cedar River at Cedar Rapids, IA. The crest
during this event was 31.12 ft set on 6/13/2008. The previous record crest
was 20.00 feet set on 6/1/1851.
Hydrograph of Cedar River Record Crest - June 13, 2008
The crest on the Cedar River became increasingly higher as it moved through
the eastern IA from Waterloo, IA because of additional rainfall. Additional
heavy rainfall occurred between when the crest left the Waterloo area and
when it arrived in the Cedar Rapids area. In addition, heavy rainfall led
to flash flooding when the Cedar River crest reached Cedar Rapids.
Unprecedented flooding occurred at many locations along the Cedar River,
including the cities of Vinton and Cedar Rapids. According to the Cedar
Rapids media, very preliminary damage estimates from this flood are estimated
to be at least $750 million in that area alone. The damage estimate may go
On the Iowa River, water flowed over the spillway at the Corps of
Engineer’s Coralville Reservoir for only the third time since the reservoir
began operation on September 17, 1958 (The other two times occurred during
the Great Flood of 1993.). Unprecedented flooding occurred downstream of
Coralville Reservoir including the cities of Iowa City and Coralville. The
University of Iowa sustained serious damage in Iowa City due to the flooding.
The latest damage estimate from the University of Iowa is $230 million which
is much higher than the $6 million in damages that occurred during the Great
Flood of 1993.
Flooding at Coralville Reservoir - June 15, 2008
Courtesy: Iowa Civil Air Patrol
Many roads in eastern Iowa and northwestern Illinois sustained severe damage
from the flooding. The flooding also forced the closure of many roads
including I-80, I-380 and US 34. On I-80, flood waters from the Cedar River
flowed over the interstate resulting in its closure between interchanges #265
and #267. This location is between Iowa City, IA and Davenport, IA. The detour
route was designated as US 61 to US 20 to I-35. This detour added 115 miles to
the normal route.
Cedar River Flowing Over Interstate 80 - June 13, 2008
Courtesy: Iowa DOT
In addition, flooding from Coralville Lake resulted in the closure of I-380
between interchanges #4 and #10. This location is between Cedar Rapids, IA and
Iowa City, IA. The detour route for I-380 was designated as I-80 to I-35 to
US 20 to I-380. This detour added 272 miles to the normal route.
As the record flooding pushed downstream on the Cedar and Iowa Rivers, it
continued bringing unprecedented impacts to many locations along those
rivers. Several levee breaches occurred on the Iowa River (below Columbus
Junction, IA) and the Mississippi River (below New Boston IL LD17). A levee
breach on the Mississippi River affected the Burlington, IA area. A levee
breach on the Illinois side of the river resulted in the flooding of Gulfport,
IL and the closure of the US Hwy 34 Bridge.
As of August 6, 2008 the governor of Iowa estimated damage to the entire
state of Iowa from the flooding could be as high as $10 billion.
July 21, 2008:
A bowing line of severe thunderstorms, known as a Derecho, raced across Iowa
and Illinois during the early morning hours of July 21 producing widespread
wind damage in about a 60 mile wide swath just south of Interstate 80. Winds
gusting over 70 miles an hour toppled trees, ripped siding and shingles off
homes and businesses, and left much of the region without power. A tree fell
onto a tent at the Indian Trails Resort in Colona, IL killing two children
and a dog and injuring 4 other children.
Doppler Radar Image of Derecho - July 21, 2008 (5:30 am CDT)
September 13, 2008:
A cold front stalled out across eastern Iowa September 13 while remnants
from Pacific Hurricane Lowell and moisture from the remnants of Hurricane
Ike moved across the region. Copious amounts of rain were the result over
much of the Midwest. Widespread rainfall totals of 1.50 to 3.00 inches fell
across the area with a band of heavier rains of 4 to 8 inches stretching
from northeast Missouri to Chicago. Flash flooding was observed across
Missouri, southeast Iowa, and Illinois.
November 29-30, 2008
Low pressure tracked from the Mid-Mississippi River Valley to the Great Lakes
region on November 29-30, 2008. This was the first snowfall of the winter season
and produced widespread accumulations of 2 to 4 inches.
December 14, 2008
A powerful arctic cold front swept across the region on December 14. Temperatures
warmed into the 50s and lower 60s ahead of the front, with Burlington tying the
record high of 62 degrees. Behind the front, temperatures plummetted, reaching the
single digits and teens by the morning of December 15. Some locations saw the
temperature drop 50 degrees in less than 12 hours. Rain ahead of the front quickly
changed to freezing rain, sleet, and snow. Due to the extreme nature of the system,
a few thunderstorms developed just behind the front. Roads and highways quickly became
a sheet of ice and there were several accidents reported.
December 18-19, 2008
A major winter/ice storm moved across the area on December 18th and 19th bringing
heavy snowfalls of 5 to 10 inches to the Highway 20 corridor, 1 to 3 inches of sleet
along the I-80 corridor, and ice accumulations from freezing rain measuring 1/4 to
nearly 1 inch across areas south of Interstate 80.
December 20-21, 2008
A fresh supply of snow accumulating to 1 to 3 inches occurred on December 20, especially Return to News Archive
along and north of I-80. A powerful arctic cold front then swept across the area during
the evening of December 20 and throughout the day December 21, ushering northwest winds
gusting over 45 mph into the area. The result was a ground blizzard along and north of
I-80 that lasted much of the day December 21, the first day of winter. Whiteout
conditions were common, with visibilities near zero. To make matters worse, temperatures
were below zero, which when combined with the strong winds, created wind chill values
between 30 below and 40 below zero.