Meteorologist Rod Swerman, at the National Weather Service, says the heavy snow pack is starting to melt with high temperatures forecast in the 40s today and Tuesday and near 60 by Wednesday, yet the ground is still frozen.”Everything underneath the snow right now is basically like a parking lot, it’s an impervious surface,” Swerman says. “The melt water from the snow, a good share of it, is expected to run off versus some years, we don’t have any frost underneath the snow, so, if the snowmelt is slow enough, a lot of it will actually soak into the ground.”
Swerman says flooding in the spring isn’t an uncommon thing, but this year will be different. “We’ve got things ganging up on us,” he says. “We’ve got the wet soils. We’ve got the frozen soils. We’ve got a heavy snow cover. There’s a lot of snow cover out there and we’re already getting up to mid-March. It’s going to take a while to melt the snow.”
The Cedar River has a 50% chance it will reach major flood stage in the coming weeks. The Cedar at Charles City reached flood stage three times last year, with the highest crest in September at 13.8 feet. Major flood stage is at 18.4 feet. “If we get a nice easy melt, if it warms up slowly and the snow comes off slowly, you might only get to 12 or 13 feet, but there’s the unknown of during the peak of the melt, is it going to rain?” Swerman says. “We find that a significant rain event during the melt is critical to getting some of these big ones.”
He warns Iowans to stay weather aware as conditions can change rapidly.
(By Kellan Heavican, KCHA, Charles City)