National Weather Services releases first river flood outlook of the season

Published: Feb. 11, 2023 at 9:00 AM CST
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Spring is right around the corner, and for many living along the river attention turns toward the threat of flooding.

The National Weather Service released its first of three spring flood outlooks of the season.

“The forecast is slightly above average to near average,” said Matt Wilson, senior service hydrologist at National Weather Service Quad Cities.

Wilson has looked at several different factors going into the potential of flooding along area rivers, including temperatures, snow pack, snow-water equivalent, ice on the rivers, frost depth, and the amount of snow on the ground to the north.

“Some of the factors are elevated more than they would be other years. But also, some of the other factors are decreased threats from what we would normally face,” said Wilson.

Major flooding, like the one that led to the breach of the flood barriers in downtown Davenport in 2019, is not expected this spring, at least along the Mississippi River from Dubuque to Burlington.

“There we’re really expecting to see minor to moderate flooding. That should be the bulk of what we see this year,” said Wilson.

While there have been warmer than average temperatures and below average snowfall and inconsistent snow pack here at home, conditions have been different to the north.

“In the Minnesota, Wisconsin area, so the headwaters of the Mississippi mainstem, we have above average snow packs up there, and above average snow-water equivalents. So that water when it melts out in the spring will make its way into the mainstem Mississippi River. That’s where our elevated Mississippi flood conditions really occur,” said Wilson.

As far as the risk of flooding on some of the smaller rivers?

“The Rock River is near normal, maybe slightly above normal. But yeah, the Wapsi also, up near DeWitt, would expect to see some flooding. But that’s a pretty yearly event up there, and it’s not expected to be anything out of the normal for them,” said Wilson.

Additional snowfall, cold temperatures leading to ice jams, spring rainfall and a quick snow melt to our north could throw a wrench in the current forecast.

“That’s the situation where we could be seeing some of those major flood threats,” said Wilson.

The second outlook will be released Feb. 23, with the final outlook coming out on March 9.