Iowa’s Forecast Calling For Elevated Spring Flood Risk

Don’t Sit On Buying Flood Insurance For Your Home, the NWS Warns

An optimist would see Iowa’s chances of enduring major flooding this spring as a glass half empty.

The Good Lord willing, the Hawkeye State’s creeks and rivers won’t rise too mightily this spring. But the National Weather Service and weather experts are warning homeowners to be alert to elevated flood risks created by – you guessed it — this seemingly unending, hard, cold, snowy Iowa winter we’re still trapped in.

High snowpacks, high soil moisture, soil saturation, rain predictions and elevated streamflows could lead to the F word being uttered from Sioux City to Cedar Rapids and from Decorah to Davenport this spring, warns NWS hydrologist Jeff Zogg.

That makes buying home flood insurance today, not tomorrow, imperative.

“Just be prepared for the possibility of flooding this spring,” Zogg told the Des Moines Register. “If people don’t have flood insurance, there is a 30-day waiting period (in policies) for flood insurance. That’s the one thing to take into account.”

“(Home flood insurance) is not something you can buy and it takes effect the next day, so that’s something for (Iowa homeowners) to consider if they don’t have it already.”

Ground frost caused from February’s heavy snows has risen as high as two feet deep in the northern and northeastern part of the state. Ground frost adds moisture to the snow, spiking flood chances.

Naturally, the areas most at risk are communities surrounding the Mississippi River.

“The probability for flooding is very high for at least minor flooding along the Mississippi River and most tributary rivers across Eastern Iowa,” the NWS reported.

Combine a melting snowpack with heavy spring rains and Iowa could be looking at a prescription for dangerous, costly spring flooding.

“What’s going to determine whether it actually happens is how rapidly the snow melts as well as any precipitation we get as far as heavy rainfall and thunderstorms,” Zogg said. “That will increase the risk of flooding.”

The NWS pegs the risk of major flooding in Iowa’s eastern waterways this spring at 50 percent.

The good news: The flood glass could still be half empty for a weary state coming off the second-wettest year in Iowa history.

“The process of melting the snowpack will be essential to the severity of flooding that occurs this spring,” the NWS states. “A faster melt combined with heavy spring-time rains could cause high impact flooding, while a slow melt with little additional precipitation would cause flooding to be much less severe.”

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