Raging brown water flows by streambanks covered with snow.

NWS Releases Spring Flood Outlook

Raging brown water flows by streambanks covered with snow.

Spring flooding in Dolliver Park in 2007. Photo by David Morris

Iowans should be prepared for potential flooding this spring, according to the National Weather Service’s (NWS) spring flood and water resource outlook for eastern Iowa.

A wet fall left the area with nearly saturated soils going into winter. The melt rate of the current snowpack will also have an impact on possible flooding, as will potential heavy spring rains.

The report predicts a very high probability of at least minor flooding along the Mississippi River and its tributaries in eastern Iowa. The NWS outlook also forecasts an above normal chance of major flooding, as well as a better than average chance of moderate to major flooding at the lower ends of river systems, including the Rock, Cedar, Iowa, and Wapsipinicon rivers. Ice jam flooding is also a possibility.

Here are the main points from the NWS outlook:

  • High confidence of widespread rises to near or above minor flood stage on all area rivers, but low confidence on the peak severity of any flooding that occurs.
  • Saturated soil conditions from southern Minnesota into northeast Wisconsin and all areas southward in the region, as well as deep frost in the northern parts of the region will lead to high amounts of runoff from snowmelt, spring rains, or a combination of the two.
  • Snowmelt alone will likely cause rises in river levels to near or above flood stage.
  • Any significant spring rains will increase the potential for high-impact flooding this season.
  • Ice action in the rivers will continue to be a factor in potential flooding into March.
  • The rate of snowmelt will be essential to the severity of flooding that occurs this spring

Iowa Flood Center (IFC) Director Witold Krajewski encourages Iowans to take advantage of the tools and resources of the IFC to be better prepared for potential flooding. In particular, the Iowa Flood Information System (IFIS) offers a convenient, easy-to-use one-stop web platform to stay abreast of up-to-the-minute stream and river levels, flood forecasts, and more.

“IFIS can help communities and individuals prepare for and respond to floods,” Krajewski says. “With this near-real time information, Iowans can make better decisions to reduce property damage and save lives.”