XPOL Radars in Iowa’s Turkey River basinMay 17th, 2013 by Dan Ceynar
Finding a location for two of the four University of Iowa XPOL radars was easy. They will remain at their current home base locations near Iowa City and Cedar Rapids overlooking the Clear Creek Watershed for the IFloodS campaign. For the other two destined for the Turkey River basin in northeast Iowa — well, there was work to be done.
As is typical, finding the “ideal” radar locations proved to be challenging. The primary goal was simple enough — a high spot with a good view. Then we add in the need for power, communications, and access, and it becomes more complicated.
After much planning, looking at satellite images, talking with local cities and groups, it was time to visit the basin for a reality check. Many sites that had appeared so promising became distant memories, but new possibilities arose with help of local individuals from the City of Decorah, the City of Calmar, local IDNR staff, Northeast Iowa Community College, and others. We are grateful for their “touring the countryside” time and cooperation. In the end, two very attractive locations were secured, one in Calmar and one south of St. Olaf.
As many visiting researchers and NASA and scientist are now fully aware, the weather in Iowa is constantly changing, often between extremes. The weather during the installation of the XPOL radars was challenging, ranging mostly from cold, windy, and rainy to windy and icy. Very challenging indeed. Tenacity prevailed, and both new radar locations were successfully installed at the beginning of the month despite the adverse weather conditions.
From May 1 to June 15, NASA and Iowa Flood Center scientists from the University of Iowa will measure rainfall in eastern Iowa with ground instruments and satellites as part of a field campaign called Iowa Flood Studies (IFloodS). They will evaluate the accuracy of flood forecasting models and precipitation measurements from space with data they collect.
Dan Ceynar is a staff engineer at the Iowa Flood Center. He coordinates many of the Iowa Flood Center’s instrumentation networks across Iowa including stream sensors, rain gauges, and XPOL radars. This spring, he has been busy working with NASA and IFC staff to deploy instruments for the IFloodS campaign.