Heightened flood risk remains for Eastern Iowa this spring

Spillway at the Iowa River Power Company Dam — photo by Adam Burke
Spillway at the Iowa River Power Company Dam — photo by Adam Burke

Iowa tributaries to the Mississippi River face above normal risks for flooding as predicted by the Davenport station of the National Weather Service Forecast Office (NWSFO). Their second spring outlook, released Mar. 3, notes that despite recent dry weather, wet soil across the state would quickly shed precipitation or snowmelt and contribute to flood conditions.

“All of the Upper Mississippi River Basin remains well above normal with rankings above the 90th percentile for soil moisture,” the NWSFO outlook reads. “Therefore, soils are nearly saturated and not able to hold much additional moisture.”

However, the heightened risk for flooding is not an indicator of severity. The highest probabilities are indicated for widespread minor to moderate flooding.

Precipitation totals for the last three months in Iowa beat a 101-year-old record, making for the wettest winter to date.

In December and January, the Iowa and Cedar Rivers set records for streamflow.

January and February each set records for global high temperatures this year. Satellites measured February at 1.5 degrees above average.

A recent NASA study showed that as global temps climb and polar ice melts, the increase in precipitation is being stored in inland. The inland storage has temporarily slowed the rate of sea level rise associated with melting ice sheets and glaciers. Several trillion tons of water are being sponged up and stored in aquifers, lakes and soil.