Stories tagged iowa

As the Mississippi flood waters recede, a new threat is rising. Public health officials in Iowa are warning people about the health risks associated with cleaning up their water-damaged homes, farms and buildings. Bacteria thrives in the water, and could lead to a number of diseases, and can contaminate well water. Water-logged buildings are a haven for mold, which can cause serious problems for allergy and asthma sufferers.


In Iowa, 83 of its 99 counties are now disaster areas

Iowa flood warnings: Sunday, June 15, 3 pm
Iowa flood warnings: Sunday, June 15, 3 pmCourtesy National Weather Service
Iowa was the epicenter of the flooding that swamped Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Indiana this week.

A levee holding back the Des Moines River broke Friday night in Des Moines, sending water rushing into a neighborhood near downtown.

In Cedar Rapids, the state's second-largest city, the waters of the swollen Cedar River crested Friday night, but more than 400 city blocks remain waterlogged and 24,000 people have been forced from their homes.

Click on the link below to read more
flooding in Iowa (Yahoo News)

There's gotta be some scientific angle to this story: waste treatment inspection, a cure for sinus congestion, something. But it's way too cool to leave out of this collection of interesting information.


Fitting that something called a "bore" would be found in Iowa: Photo by NASA.  Minnesota trash-talk by Gene
Fitting that something called a "bore" would be found in Iowa: Photo by NASA. Minnesota trash-talk by Gene

Colliding masses of air over Des Moines, Iowa on October 3 formed waves of clouds known as an undular bore. (Time-lapse video at the link.)

What happened was an approaching thunderstorm plowed into a mass of stable, cold air, like the prow of a ship plowing through the water. This set up huge waves in the air, which rippled over Des Moines. Winds would whip around 180° as the waves rolled by.

Scientists think these types of waves may be more common than we know, and may play a big role in violent weather.


Farming the Wind: photo by Dirk Ingo Franke.   licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 1.0
Farming the Wind: photo by Dirk Ingo Franke. licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 1.0

Is wind a good cash crop?

At the State Fair I observed as several farmers were researching whether a 1.5 million dollar wind turbine would make them money. The biggest factor was how much wind was available where they lived.The break even point was if they had better than 7.5 mph average wind speeds( see map pdf). Apparently several banks and also John Deere are financing projects if the numbers look good. Power companies will give a 20 year contract to buy electricity. The wind generators usally have a life expectancy of 25 years. Most farmers pay back the loan in ten years, then can reap profits of over $100,000 a year for the next 15 years. Sounds tempting, doesn't it?

An Iowa company hopes to build a $200 million wind farm.

Iowa Winds LLC hopes to build a 200- to 300-megawatt farm covering about 40,000 acres in Franklin County.

Company officials said the farm could be the nation's largest -- depending on the permits and the county's power grid infrastructure. If the county approves the project, construction would start next spring and take about a year, said Franklin County Supervisor Michael Nolte. LiveScience

Texas leads the nation with 2,370 megawatts of wind energy installed and California has 2,323 megawatts (American Wind Association). Iowa is in third place with 836 megawatts. Minnesota is fourth with 794 megawatts. The total United States capacity is about 10,000 megawatts. These numbers and rankings are changing. Wind energy output is growing by about 30 percent a year globally.

Want more? Go to the Minnesota Dept. of Commerce wind energy information web page.


Mumps outbreak concerns U.S. health officials

Some 515 cases (of mumps) have been reported in Iowa, plus 43 in Nebraska, 33 in Kansas, and single digits in Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

"Why Iowa, and why now? We really don't know," said William Bellini of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. "There are a lot of unknowns." Officials speculate that the epidemic might have been set off by someone from Britain, which has been experiencing a large mumps outbreak for several years.

Experts hope the relatively high U.S. vaccination rates will contain the outbreak. The tens of thousands of cases in Britain have been blamed on problems with that country's vaccination program, and concerns among some parents that childhood vaccines may increase the risk of autism, which left a significant proportion of the population unvaccinated.   (from San Francisco Chronicle)

Of the 245 patients this year, at least 66 percent had had the recommended two-shot vaccination, while 14 percent had received one dose, the Public Health Department said.

"The vaccine is working," Quinlisk said. "The vaccine certainly was made to cover this particular strain, because it's a fairly common strain of mumps." Quinlisk said the vaccine overall is considered about 95 percent effective.  (from Yahoo News)

Information about mumps by Mayo Clinic Staff

The mumps virus spreads easily from person to person through infected saliva. A person is considered contagious from three days before symptoms appear to about four days after. In general, you're considered immune to mumps if you've previously had the infection or if you've been immunized against mumps.

To stop the spread of the disease, those with mumps should not return to child care, school or work until five days after symptoms began or until they are well, whichever is longer. Individuals with known exposure to someone with mumps should have their immunization status checked. Those who have not received two doses of the MMR vaccine should be vaccinated.

Complications of mumps are rare but include:

  • Meningitis
  • Encephalitis
  • Hearing loss
  • Inflammation of the testicles (orchitis)
  • Inflammation of the ovaries

In addition, mumps infection in the first trimester of pregnancy may increase the risk of miscarriage.

If you have unexplained swelling in your jaw and neck, or you have these symptoms after a known exposure to someone who has the mumps, call your doctor promptly.    by Mayo Clinic Staff

Want updates or have questions

Since the first report of mumps to IDPH, the state health department has monitored, communicated and educated health care providers and the public about the increase in numbers of cases. Mumps resources, including twice-weekly case updates, can be viewed on IDPH's Web site.

The Iowa Department of Public Health answers freqently asked questions about mumps here.

Mumps information in Wikipedia


Natural resource officials in Minnesota and Iowa are advocating for the construction of two fish barriers on the Mississippi River that they hope willl stop the upstream migration of Asian carp.

These barriers, which would be placed below lock and dam 14 or 15 (just north of Davenport, Iowa) and lock and dam 11 (just north of Dubuque, Iowa), might use bubbles and sounds to stop the fish from entering the open locks. The fish could be directed into pools where commercial fishermen could harvest them. (Similar barriers are already used on a smaller scale to keep fish away from water intake pipes at power plants.) Minnesota Department of Natural Resources employees are looking at a variety of different technologies, trying to find one that's as selective as possible. The idea is to find something that will deter the carp, but not the paddlefish and other species that ecologists want migrating up the river, many of which are threatened or endangered.

How big is the invasive carp problem? That's a little unclear. So far, two species of the fish--bighead and silver carp--have escaped from southern fish farms and moved north along the Mississippi and its tributaries. A third species, black carp, has been caught in several areas, but scientists don't know if it's reproducing. One bighead carp was caught in Lake Pepin (south of the Twin Cities) in the fall of 2003, but no others have since been reported.

But the Upper Mississippi is one of the most pristine of American rivers, and officials are anxious to keep it that way.

Silver and bighead carp can reach more than 50 pounds, and out-compete native species for food such as plankton. Silver carp are also dangerous to recreational boaters and water-skiers, as they jump out of the water when disturbed; they've injured people and damaged equipment.

The University of Minnesota's Bell Museum of Natural History has an invasive carp feature on their "Hot Topic" website.

The Star Tribune has a special feature on invasive species in the Great Lakes.