Weather

Liam Kieffer

The deadly tornado earlier this week in Oklahoma recalls other recent tornado disasters in the Midwest. Today on River To River, host Ben Kieffer talks with survivors of the devastating tornado in Joplin, Missouri in 2011…and the twister that struck the Parkersburg/New Hartford area here in Iowa 5 years ago. Some experts join the conversation as well, to shed more light on the effect of the EF5 tornado that tore through Oklahoma.

Courtesy photo

Residents of Parkersburg and nearby towns that were hit by an EF5 tornado five years ago are remembering the events of that day as information pours in from Moore, Oklahoma.  Parkersburg City Clerk, Chris Luhring says he believes part of the healing process involves helping others when you can, " I think our goal for Moore, Oklahoma is to feel our love and support and our prayers for them, people here don’t do it for the credit, they’re just leaving in the middle of the night to help and to raise some funds." Seven people were killed in Parkersburg and two died in nearby Ne

Paige Fevold Hill

It took less than an hour for a line of thunderstorms moving across Northeast Iowa Monday morning to cause thousands of dollars in damage. Hail the size of ping pong balls was the source of the devastation.

Charity Nebbe / Iowa Public Radio

After two major flooding events for Iowa in 1993 and 2008, and a number of significant flooding events in-between, Iowans need to ask hard questions about how we have altered our environment.

Today on "Talk of Iowa" we talk about agricultural and urban flooding. We'll take a look at changes we've made to our landscape that has made it more prone to flooding.  We'll also discuss both the damage flooding can cause, and some innovative ways farmers, homeowners and city planners can prevent flooding or at least minimize the damage it can cause.

Durrie Bouscaren / Iowa Public Radio

Today on River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with reporters across the state to discuss what has been happening locally.  The pipe bomb detonation in Cedar Falls, tension at the Statehouse...and an exploration of a recent Des Moines Register investigation on Iowa’s EMT services.

We also find out how the storms across Iowa will affect flood levels, by meeting with a Quad Cities National Weather Service representative and the Director of the Iowa Flood Center.

Durrie Bouscaren / Iowa Public Radio

Flash flood warnings have been issued across eastern Iowa, and communities are bracing themselves for heavy rain through the end of the week. 

In Solon, about 15 people scrambled to fill sand bags and load them onto volunteers’ pickup trucks Wednesday afternoon. Some were bound for their neighborhoods; others, to a daycare down the road.

Tom Trump drove a load of sandbags back to his subdivison on the south side of Solon, where a large pool of water was slowly creeping up to his neighbors’ basement windows.

Durrie Bouscaren / IPR

After all the rain this week, we get a drought and flood update to find out how our soil is fairing. Ben Kieffer talks with state climatologist, Harry Hillaker, and National Weather Service hydrologist, Marin Stofler.

Liam Kieffer

In May of 2011, Joplin Missouri was hit by the deadliest single tornado since record keeping began in 1950.  After that disaster, the National Weather Service evaluated their warning system and public response to it.  That led to a more specific warning system that went into effect in Iowa on April 1.  Today we hear from two Iowa National Weather Service meteorologists about the new “impact-based” warning system. We also listen back to our conversation last year with storm chaser Jeff Piotrowski and his firsthand account of the Joplin tornado.

Storm Kings

Mar 21, 2013
Flickr / koschi

Tornados weren’t commonly called tornados until the early 20th century.  Instead these violent storms were referred to as landspouts, whirlwinds or cyclones.  Author Lee Sandlin talks to “Talk of Iowa” about his new book “Storm Kings” which details the history of a group of storm chasers from the 1800s who were instrumental in advancing the scientific understanding of tornados.

Flickr / Grant MacDonald

Though half of Iowa is still under a blanket of snow the rivers are swollen, the days are growing longer and spring is definitely on its way. "Talk of Iowa" sits down with wildlife biologist Jim Pease to talk about the signs and songs of spring.

CR Artist / flickr

Even though Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow, don’t bet old man winter is done with us just yet. Today on River to River, we talk about the winter storms we’ve had this year… and if there’s been progress towards drought recovery. Also, journalist Callie Crossley joins our conversation to talk about race relations in the U.S. and where there’s room for improvement.

Flickr / bknittle

When you look at your house covered in a blanket of new fallen snow, if you look closely you can learn some important things. "Talk of Iowa's" home improvement expert Bill McAnally visits to explain what Mother Nature can help you learn about your house.

Sarah McCammon / Iowa Public Radio

A winter snow storm dumped several inches of unexpected snow on the Des Moines area Tuesday morning,  much of it during the morning rush hour.  Forecasters are adjusting their predictions as more snow moves into the region.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Jeff Johnson says the storm's trajectory defied predictions, which had put most of the snowfall in southeast Iowa.

Conrad Kuiper / Flickr

When snow covers the ground the world looks as if it is sleeping under a blanket of white, but life does go on. Wildlife biologist Jim Pease joins Charity Nebbe to discuss life under and in the snow and  how that white stuff benefits the burrowers, the hibernators, and other birds and mammals. 

Pease also discusses how snow is an insulator and a boon to wildlife for keeping warm and how even some amphibians benefit from the snow.

Fernando Tomás / Wikimedia Commons

There has been a lot of talk about climate change in the news, with some experts saying super storms like Hurricane Sandy could be more frequent on the East Coast. But what’s the future of climate change in the Midwest? Ben Kieffer talks with University of Iowa Environmental Engineer Jerry Schnoor and others about what we might expect in the Midwest and how we might adapt to the change. Then, Ben talks with state Senator Rob Hogg, a vocal supporter of climate change policies.

Via Tsuji / Flickr

Every December tens of thousands of seemingly sensible Iowans buy a cut tree and bring it into the house. On Horticulture Day Charity Nebbe talks with forester Mark Vitosh about Christmas trees, how they’re grown, how to pick a good one, how to keep it fresh and how our Christmas tree crop was affected by the drought.

Horticulturist Richard Jauron then joins the conversation to answer listener questions about the plants in their lives.

Courtesy photo

Hundreds of Iowa utility workers are on the East Coast helping restore power to the thousands knocked offline by Super Storm Sandy. Just as progress is being made, another storm threatens to undo much of the work already accomplished. Lead Safety Consultant for Alliant Energy in Cedar Rapids, Kent Sodawasser says crew members are struggling with downed trees.  Sodawasser says he was humbled today when a man wearing a red, white and blue tie shook his hand and said, "Thanks for putting my power back on, now I don't have to watch over my generator and I can go and vote."

Jason Mrachina / Flickr

Most people will have the experience of voting in an election but few of us will ever know what it is like to be on the ballot. We talk with two former Iowa congressmen - Democrat Dave Nagle (1987-1993) and Republican Jim Ross Lightfoot (1985-1997) to find out what election day is like from the candidates' perspective.

Clay Masters

Iowa has been in the center of the presidential campaign since mid-2011. In less than a week campaigning will end, and governing will begin. It’s the last politics day before the election. Steffen Schmidt of Iowa State University and Tim Hagle of the University of Iowa asses where things stand.

Drought And The Economy

Sep 14, 2012
Theresa Wysocki / Flickr

What is the economic impact of this year’s drought? When it comes to food prices, agricultural experts and analysts say it means a spike due to soaring corn prices, but consumers may not see higher prices in the grocery store until 2013. Then we look at other economic factors in the Midwest, including how the 2012 Presidential Election could affect crude oil prices.

My Farm Roots: Barb and Lynn Handy

Aug 29, 2012
Camille Phillips / Harvest Public Media

This is the seventh installment of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.

A year after flood, Hamburg hopes to keep levee

Aug 7, 2012
Nati Harnik / AP

Last summer, Iowa and Nebraska were in the grips of major flooding along the Missouri River. Now, a small southwest Iowa community hopes to make permanent a levee that protected them from the river. 

To find out more about the levee project, click here.

The Word Maven

Aug 2, 2012

Words like tornado and Derecho fascinate and frighten and they both have surprising histories. Charity talks with English language expert Patricia O’Conner who looks at  the origins of weather related words.  Patricia answers all questions that relate to the English language.

Summer Drought

Jul 19, 2012
Clint Alley / flickr

Most of Iowa is now experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions… along with more than half the country.  On today's "River to River' we hear from farmers, business owners and cities about how they’re being affected.  We talk with Elwynn Taylor about the prospects for turning the dry weather around.  And Harry Hillaker tells us how this drought compares with others in the state’s history. 

1st Sgt. Duff McFadden, Iowa National Guard / flickr

A tornado devastated Parkersburg in 2008, fire gutted Grinnell in 1889, and in the 1980s Bell Plaine was laid low by the farm crisis. When disaster strikes, the repercussions can be felt for decades to come. We continue our series on Iowa towns, with communities that have been shaped by disaster.

Clay Masters / IPR

The mighty Missouri River flows through 7 states and drains one-sixth of the water in the United States.  It’s a powerful force that gives life to the land.  But last year’s flood that lasted over 110 days has people talking… and fighting for the future. Here’s Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters, with part two of our special report.

Clay Masters / IPR

The floodwaters that ravaged homes, businesses and farms along a vast stretch of the Missouri River last year are not a distant memory. And as the difficult cleanup and recovery continues, concerns have intensified between those who want there to be more control of this river, and those who believe it should flow freely. In part one of a two-part report, Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters finds that common ground has yet to find traction.

Last Friday a new painting was unveiled in Cedar Rapids titled “You Know, We’re all in This Together”.  The work features dozens of optimistic community members in a scene about a city still recovering from the devastating flood of 2008.

Joplin, One Year Later

May 21, 2012
Liam Kieffer

One year ago – on May 22, 2011 – one of the deadliest tornados in U.S. history struck the city of Joplin, Missouri. The twister killed 160 people and injured hundreds more.

Recently, IPR’s Ben Kieffer traveled to Joplin to talk with tornado survivors. 

He also spoke with researchers from Iowa State University who went to Joplin in the immediate aftermath. They surveyed structural damage to find out what it reveals about how best to survive a tornado.  

Joplin Anniversary

May 18, 2012
Liam Kieffer

One year after one of the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history struck Joplin, Missouri, host Ben Kieffer takes us on trip to Joplin to talk with survivors of the disaster.

We hear from Martha Goldman and Ian Coday, the young couple who survived in their closet as the house around them was ripped away. Also, 76-yr old Carolyn Pendergraft talks about surviving in her basement while above her half century-old donut shop was destroyed.

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