The latest spell of cold, wet weather doesn’t bode well for the spring season ahead, as it makes renewed flooding all the more likely early in 2020. Hydrologist Jessica Brooks, at the National Weather Service in the Quad Cities, says she’s concerned because a majority of rivers in the Mississippi River basin are already above normal levels and the soil is still saturated.
“Moisture in the soil won’t have the opportunity to dry out before we get into the spring season,” Brooks says. “A lot of it will likely be frozen into the soil once we, well, we are cold right now and are probably starting to see a little bit of the ground starting to freeze, on the top layers anyway.” Brooks also says the winter outlook is for normal to above-normal amounts of rain and snow.
“If there are some things you wanted to make sure you get done before it floods again, maybe it’s time to think about how you should do it now rather than wait until later,” Brooks says. “It’s not a situation yet that we would say start getting your resources ready because it’s going to happen. We’re not confident in that yet.” Some Iowans are still recovering from this year’s record-breaking flooding along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.
Key factors to watch in the coming months include: winter and spring precipitation, how wet the snow is, how fast it may melt, and frost depth. The weather service in Davenport will issue its first Spring Flood Outlook on February 13th.