From local streets to long stretches of highway, and even sections of Interstates 29 and 680, roadways across Iowa being barricaded due to flooding from heavy rainfall, ice jams and snowmelt.
Communities along the Mississippi River will face the threat of significant flooding well into the foreseeable future, according to meteorologist Brian Pierce at the National Weather Service. Pierce says, “Probably the way to look at this round of flooding is that this is going to be a dress rehearsal for the main snowmelt flood event that is going to be occurring next month.”
The Weather Service is projecting the Mississippi will crest about six-feet above flood stage at both Burlington and Keokuk within the next few days. Pierce says 2019 is shaping up to be similar to 1965, a terrible year for flooding. He says in both instances, there was much more snow than normal in Minnesota, Wisconsin and northern Iowa, while the frozen soil was fully-saturated.
“In ’65, we suddenly warmed up and we had a heavy rain event that melted all that snow in about a seven-day period,” Pierce says. “What we don’t know this year is if we are going to have a sudden warm-up and a heavy rain event that’s going to cause a repeat, but unfortunately, there are similarities between 1965 and this year.”
The 1965 flood produced the 8th-highest recorded crest at both Keokuk and Burlington. Pierce says the speed at which the remaining snow melts will determine if the flooding reaches those 1965 levels, or higher. In southwest Iowa, the West Nishnabotna River in Pottawattamie County may crest ten-feet above flood stage, slightly higher than the previous record set in 1993.
Doug Reed, emergency management director with the Red Cross in Pottawattamie County, says they’ve opened shelters in Council Bluffs and Avoca for residents who have been displaced. Reed says, “It was important for us to have something available now should folks feel that it’s prudent for them and their family and they don’t have any place to go.” Reed says they’re not overly concerned, just taking precautions. There have been mandatory evacuations in cities including Missouri Valley and Harlan.
(Thanks to Jason Parrott, Tri States Public Radio,Katie Peikes at Iowa Public Radio/Photos courtesy of Dennis Morrice, KLEM radio)