USA – Rivers in Northern Iowa at Record Levels After 214mm of Rain in 24 Hours

Update (26 August 2016):

On 25 August Iowa Governor Terry E. Branstad issued a proclamation of disaster emergency for Allamakee, Clayton, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek counties in response to recent severe storms and flash flooding.

Original report:

Over 8 inches (200 mm) of rain fell in parts of northern Iowa between 23 and 24 August, causing flooding and increasing rivers to record levels.

Local officials report that one man died in Chickasaw County after his car was swept off the road by waters from the swollen Little Turkey River.

Parts of Winneshiek County have also been affected, including Spillville, Decorah, Fort Atkinson and Freeport. Some evacuations were carried out in Decorah and Fort Atkinson Trailer Park was also evacuated. Schools and roads have been closed in the area.

Floods in Freeport, Iowa.
Floods in Freeport, Iowa. Photo: Office of Winneshiek County Sheriff

The city of Decorah issued a statement yesterday, warning of the flood situation:

“Decorah is experiencing significant flooding. Stone Ridge Church (1111 Montgomery St, Decorah, IA 52101) is open and has been designated as a primary shelter. The Salvation Army will be providing food service and a limited number of clean up kits at that site for those in need. Emergency Management requests that individuals stay off the roads and not do any unnecessary driving has a number of roads are closed and others washed out. Shelter is in place, stay in your home unless emergency or you are directed otherwise.”

Many of these areas suffered during the 2008 floods in Iowa.


The Turkey River at Spillville reach 20.25 feet, breaking the previous record high of 19 feet and well above major flood stage of 13 feet.

Turkey River at Spillville, Iowa reached record levels. Image: NOAA
Turkey River at Spillville, Iowa reached record levels. Image: NOAA

National Weather Service (NWS) at La Crosse warn that levels of the Turkey River are expected to rise well above major flood stage at Elkader and Garber over the next 24 hours.

Upper Iowa River at Dorchester surged a massive 16 feet in just a few hours. It reached record levels of 24.3 feet late on 24 August, beating the previous high of 22.46 feet set in 2008. Major flood stage at Dorchester is 19 feet. Levels are falling and should be back to normal by Sunday 28 August if there is no further rain.

Upper Iowa River at Dorchester, Iowa jumped 16 feet to reach record levels. Image: NOAA
Upper Iowa River at Dorchester, Iowa jumped 16 feet to reach record levels. Image: NOAA

The Upper Iowa River at Decorah reached 13.68 feet late on 24 August, just under the 14 feet major flood stage, but has since started to fall.

Cedar River at Charles City reached 12.77 feet earlier today, 25 August, above minor flood stage of 12 feet. The river is expected to rise further over the next 24 hours.


Rainfall totals (in inches) 23 to 24 August, 2016. Figures according to NWS La Crosse.

  • 5 ESE Decorah – 8.46
  • Decorah 6ese – 7.58
  • Decorah Municipal Airport – 7.19
  • Calmar – 6.09
  • Cresco – 6.04
  • Dorchester – 5.67
  • Steuben – 5.62
  • Mount Zion – 5.38
  • Ferryville – 5.15
  • Gays Mills – 5.10
  • Elma – 5.03

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