Following the fourth wettest year on record, Iowa has experienced a snowier than average Winter. Those two factors are boosting the potential for flooding. State Climatologist Harry Hillaker says it’s not a sure thing, but if certain pieces fall into place, it could be a messy Spring across much of Iowa.
"The worst case scenario would be keeping snow on the ground longer," Hillaker said. "Basically that would mean adding more snow to it or keeping it cold enough that it doesn’t melt. It makes it more likely that when things finally do warm up, it’s going to warm up rapidly and cause snowmelt to occur in a very short period of time and release a lot of water into the streams all at once."
Although southeast Iowa has experience the most snowfall this Winter, Hillaker says the potential for flooding in greater in northeast Iowa. "Northeast Iowa has more snow-water content on the groud than other parts of the state," Hillaker says, "partly because they’ve been colder. Southeast Iowa…places like Iowa City and Oskaloosa have seen a lot of snow, but did manage to melt all of it off before it started piling up again."
Last year’s wet weather is factor because river levels were already high going into this Winter. Hillaker says a gradual warm up, combined with little rain or more snowfall, would help ease concerns of Spring flooding.