This month will go into the record books as the wettest December ever in Iowa.
“Preliminarily it looks like an average of just over five inches of moisture — and that would be rainfall and the liquid equivalent of the snowfall that we’ve had — and that’s, gosh, about 50 percent higher than the previous wettest December on record which was back in 1982,” says State Climatologist Harry Hillaker.
Since 1872, there’s been no other winter month in Iowa that’s been wetter than this December.
“That was following a rather wet November as well which preliminarily ranked 7th wettest among 143 years of November records,” Hillaker says.
Hillaker doesn’t foresee flooding concerns in the “immediate future” in Iowa.
“Can’t rule out, you know, flooding problems in the next month or two if we get more unusually heavy precipitation,” Hillaker says. “But for Iowa I think the biggest concern would be the potential for very wet conditions this spring ’cause certainly soils are very much saturated right now and there’s no vegetation growing to remove that moisture from the soil, so we definitely don’t want to be seeing an unusually wet spring or an unusually cool spring or certainly not a combination of both.”
There is significant flooding to the south of Iowa. The Mississippi River is projected to reach record flood levels in Missouri this week, exceeding the historic flooding of 1993. In downstate Illinois, officials have evacuated a prison as flood waters threaten levees and sand bag barriers along the Mississippi River.
Officials are urging people to use caution and avoid driving in or near flood water. A dozen people have died in vehicles swept away in Missouri floodwaters. Five have died in southern Illinois flooding.