Iowa Flood Center could become collaborative partner for stronger forecasting
Thursday, October 16, 2014

As Americans continue to be impacted by extreme weather at higher rates, better technology needs to be used between more collaborative groups of national and regional weather centers to increase reporting and safety, says National Weather Service (NWS) Director Louis W. Uccellini. Uccellini spoke to the University of Iowa campus community Wednesday, Oct. 15.

The idea of creating a Weather-Ready Nation is a strategic plan developed by the NWS, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and others, with the goal of improving forecasting services, adapting to climate-related risks, supporting healthy communities and ecosystems, and sustaining a highly-skilled workforce to meet that mission.

“For the first time since I’ve been in the weather service—and it goes back to 1989 – we’ve got everybody lined up,” says Uccellini. “If we’ve got better forecasts, people are more responsive.”

Increasing collaboration to produce better forecasts means involving more public research institutions, especially on the issues of flooding and water. To increase water monitoring, NOAA and the NWS have created the National Water Center, located at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.

“We want to get the research community engaged in the work that we do,” says NWS Office of Hydrologic Development acting director Don Cline.

The goal is to have the 13 NWS River Forecast Centers across the nation report to the National Water Center. The Iowa Flood Center of IIHR—Hydroscience and Engineering hopes to be able to play a crucial role in accelerating developments at the National Water Center by leveraging the experiences and technological advances from Iowa.

“That’s what we would really like to see,” says Witold Krajewski, director of the Iowa Flood Center, “a strong collaboration between the Iowa Flood Center and the National Weather Service, in particular with the National Water Center as they ramp up their operations. We believe the tools we’ve developed in Iowa can be valuable to the nation.”