CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) — Portions of Iowa have a 95 percent chance of major flooding this spring, according to a grim report from the National Weather Service.
On Thursday, the National Weather Service released an updated spring flood outlook. It heightened the chance of flooding from its previous report two weeks ago.
According to the report, communities along the Mississippi River are at the highest risk. Dubuque has a 95 percent chance of major flood levels. The average spring outlook for Dubuque is 11 percent.
Other Iowa towns like Decorah, Cedar Falls and Cedar Rapids are also at high risk. Click here to read KWWL Meteorologist Eileen Loan’s break down of the updated report on Schnack’s Weather Blog.
“In light of the new data that came out, we are certainly more concerned with the forecast,” Linn County Emergency Management Coordinator, Steve O’Konek, said.
Linn County Emergency Management and the Iowa Flood Center said heavy snow this winter, combined with the bitter cold, have primed the spring for flooding.
“Because we had brutally low temperatures this past winter, the ground is frozen solid. To thaw, it will take awhile. So, at the current temperature forecast, it may take at least a week or longer in some places,” Iowa Flood Center Director, Witold Krajewski, said.
Krajewski said the frost in the ground is higher than normal.
“Which means, any melting or rain water that comes off there, precipitation, will run-off more than it will sink in,” O’Konek said. “That will increase the likelihood of streams and rivers rising faster than usual.”
However, O’Konek said it’s not the time to panic, yet.
“Let’s keep an eye on it. It’s something certainly we’re focused on. It’s something the public safety agencies are watching,” he said. “I think it will be way premature now to panic and assume it’s going to happen.”
O’Konek and Krajewski said it comes down to how quickly temperatures increase.
“It all depends on how fast the snow will melt,” Krajewski said. “So an ideal situation, it will be warmer during the day then frozen at night, so it can slow down the melt. If all of the snow melts at once then, yeah, we can be in trouble.”
The risk of flooding could lower if temperatures increase gradually. The current NWS report is based on current forecast predictions.
“The slower it can melt, the happier we will be. Mother nature will do what mother nature does,” O’Konek said.
The chance for flooding could occur in late-March up to mid-April.
The Flood Center and NWS will monitor the flood potential on a weekly basis.