It’s almost safe to go outside, for at long last, it’s springtime again in America.
Alas, for weary Iowans suffering from a 106-degree case of cabin fever, this is no time to let your guard down against severe weather threats to your home and family. For as we’ve learned the hard way the last few springs, being the heart of the Mississippi River Valley puts Iowa in the crosshairs of potential severe flooding. Warmer temperatures and ice melts are two telling reminders waters can rise with just one bad storm.
The National Weather Service did deliver welcome news for the Hawkeye state in its spring flood forecast. The NWS’s outlook shows no elevated flood risk this season for Iowa’s rivers and tributaries, outside of small, narrow portions of the Cedar, Upper Iowa and Turkey Rivers.
“The risk for flooding this spring, beyond the middle of March, is above normal for the Mississippi River, near to above normal for rivers in Illinois, and near normal for rivers in Iowa and Missouri,” the NWS reported.
This winter’s relatively low snow levels throughout the Midwest has kept river levels moderate, which in turn, should keep severe flood threats at a minimum.
“It’s looking like we probably won’t see (river flooding), there’s a low probability of seeing flooding (in Iowa), NWS meteorologist John Wetenkamp told KWWL News.
Still, Iowans shouldn’t take this season’s mild flood forecast as a sign that flood waters are guaranteed not to show up in their basements or on their community’s streets. That warning is two-fold for people living in Mississippi River flood plains.
“Don’t put yourself in an unsafe situation,” said Hallie Rasmussen, the visitor services manager for the Upper Mississippi River Wildlife and Fish Refuge, warns. “Now is the time to stay up to date with the forecast and be proactive. Be alert for rising water levels and monitor forecasts closely. Be prepared to move away from the river and get to higher ground if flooding is expected.”
As with everything when Mother Nature is involved, nothing is certain. Still, the National Weather Service’s forecast at least, calls for calm Iowa waters and rains this spring.
“Based on what we’re seeing right now, the spring flood outlook for most of Iowa calls for a near normal risk of flooding at most locations,” NWS hydrologist Jeff Zogg said.