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Experts track spring flooding risk

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) - The National Weather Service believes Iowa is at an increased risk for spring flooding in 2020, as heavily saturated soil freezes and traps moisture.

"The big concern is the wet weather we had this fall," Jessica Brooks said, a NWS hydrologist in Davenport.

This graph from the NWS shows how a lot of soil in Iowa is approaching its water capacity, with soil near the state's northern border in the 99th percentile.

"We're going to freeze our soil," Brooks said. "When we get into spring, we'll be thawing soil that's already saturated; which brings a concern."

Large amounts of water would then be headed to Eastern Iowa rivers, with some already above average. Brooks' Mississippi River monitor in the Quad Cities was at 9.98 ft. Tuesday. She says the average for this time of year is 5.1 ft.

"There's a lot of unknowns when it comes to the amount of snow we're going to see," KWWL Chief Meteorologist Mark Schnackenberg said. "But the forecast is for above average snowfall, or above average precipitation."

Experts don't think people need to be worried just yet, but think it's smart to prepare.

"At this point, it's something to be mindful of," Brooks said. "If you have any preparations to do in case it floods, now might be the time to do them."

Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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