An unusually wet winter and spring of 2007 to 2008 resulted in extremely wet antecedent conditions throughout most of Iowa. Rainfall of 5 to 15 inches was observed in eastern Iowa during May 2008, and an additional 5 to 15 inches of rain was observed throughout most of Iowa in June. Because of the severity of the May and June 2008 flooding, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with other Federal, State, and local agencies, has summarized the meteorological and hydrological conditions leading to the flooding, compiled flood-peak stages and discharges, and estimated revised flood probabilities for 62 selected streamgages.
Record peak discharges or flood probabilities of 1 percent or smaller (100-year flooding or greater) occurred at more than 60 streamgage locations, particularly in eastern Iowa. Cedar Rapids, Decorah, Des Moines, Iowa City, Mason City, and Waterloo were among the larger urban areas affected by this flooding. High water and flooding in small, headwater streams in north-central and eastern Iowa, particularly in June, combined and accumulated in large, mainstem rivers and resulted in flooding of historic proportions in the Cedar and Iowa Rivers. Previous flood-peak discharges at many locations were exceeded by substantial amounts, in some cases nearly doubling the previous record peak discharge at locations where more than 100 years of streamflow record are available.