Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2014

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Villarini, Gabriele

First Committee Member

Bradley, A Allen

Second Committee Member

Krajewski, Witold F.


Iowa has long been affected by periods characterized by extreme drought and flood. In 2008, Cedar Rapids, Iowa was devastated by a record flood with damages around $3 billion. Several years later, Iowa was affected by severe drought in 2012, causing upwards of $30 billion in damages and losses across the United States. These climatic regimes can quickly transition from one regime to another, as was observed in the June 2013 major floods to the late summer 2013 severe drought across eastern Iowa. Though it is not possible to prevent a natural disaster from occurring, we explore how predictable these events are by using forecast models and analogs.

Iowa's climate records are analyzed from 1950 to 2012 to determine if there are specific surface and upper-air pressure patterns linked to climate regimes (i.e., cold/hot and dry/wet conditions for a given month). We found that opposing climate regimes in Iowa have reversed anomalies in certain geographical regions of the northern hemisphere. These defined patterns and waves suggested to us that it could be possible to forecast extreme temperature and precipitation periods over Iowa if given a skillful forecast system. We examined the CMC, COLA, and GFDL models within the National Multi-Model Ensemble suite to create analog forecasts based on either surface or upper-air pressure forecasts. The verification results show that some analogs have predictability skill at the 0.5-month lead time exceeding random chance, but our overall confidence in the analog forecasts is not high enough to allow us to issue statewide categorical temperature and precipitation climate forecasts.


Climate, Forecasting, Iowa


xviii, 198 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 197-198).


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Copyright 2014 Scott Thomas Rowe