Flood Forecast For Mississippi River - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Flood Forecast For Mississippi River

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It's that time of year again, as things begin to thaw out and we start to see river levels rise there is concern about flooding. After a weekend of rain and snow melt, there was flooding in parts of the Quad City area and some are wondering if that will become an issue this year.

According to KWQC-TV6 Meteorologist Kevin Phelps, there are several factors to consider. First, forecasters look at snow depth not only in the Quad Cities, but areas to the North, where melting snow will feed into the Mississippi River. Another factor is soil moisture. Last year we were in an extreme drought, so the ground is still lacking in soil moisture. The third variable is frost depth. While the ground appears to be thawed on the surface, it's still frozen about 6 to 7 inches deep. That's not allowing water to penetrate deep into the soil and will cause runoff as we head into early spring.

After taking snow depth, soil moisture, frost depth into consideration, the chances of reaching minor flood stage on the Mississippi River over the next several months are varied. 

At Lock and Dam 11 in Dubuque the chance of reaching minor flood stage is 21 percent. That's below the historical average of 50 percent. In Rock Island at Lock and Dam 15, there is a 35 percent chance of the river rising to minor flood stage compared to a 57 percent historical average. In Burlington, the forecast calls for a 50 percent chance of a minor flood stage compared to a 59 percent historical average.

These forecasts do not take into account ice jams, which can cause rapid rises in the river level. Also, they only take into account average precipitation. Long-range weather models suggest March and April are going to be quite active across the TV6 viewing area, so don't be surprised if the chances for some minor flooding along the Mississippi River increase.

You can follow river levels and weekly flood forecasts on the weather page on our website or on our KWQC App for smartphones and tablets.