Despite heavy snowfall this winter across Northern Iowa and southern Minnesota, state officials say spring flooding in Eastern Iowa should be minimal — as long as it doesn’t rain.
Jessica Brooks, service hydrologist with the National Weather Service in the Quad Cities, said snow within Iowa’s Cedar River basin — which feeds into the Cedar River — had all melted as of Monday. In addition, temperatures rose gradually, which helped spread the melting process out over about four days and minimize the impact on area rivers and streams.
“It kind of worked out perfectly,” Brooks said. “While it melted fast, it didn’t all melt in one day ... even stretching it into four days kind of minimized the impact that you’ll see in areas downstream.”
The Cedar River was a little above 7 feet Monday in Cedar Rapids and was forecast to reach a little below 9 feet by Friday, according to river level data with the National Weather Service. Flood stage is at 12 feet.
In Waterloo, the river was at a little above 9 feet, which is higher than normal, but still several feet below the 13-foot flood stage.
A flood warning remains in effect for portions of the Cedar River in Black Hawk County near Cedar Falls and Waterloo until Thursday. As of Monday, no flooding had occurred and only minimal flooding was forecast, according to the National Weather Service.
The Iowa River in Iowa City was at about 14.6 feet Monday and is projected to be lower by Friday. Flood stage at that location isn’t reached until 22 feet.
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“The reservoir at Coralville Lake is going to be able to handle any higher waters that come through,” Brooks said. “There’s not anything too high to be worried about.”
In addition to a favorable melt of the northern snowpack, Witold Krajewski, director of the Iowa Flood Center, said somewhat mild winter temperatures also provided good conditions in Eastern Iowa.
“Certainly in this lower part of the state, the soil had its chance to recover and evaporate moisture. Even though we had cold temperatures, it was not cold enough for a deep freeze,” he said.
Maren Stoflet, hydrologist with the Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District, said outflow Monday at the Coralville reservoir was normal, about 4,500 cubic feet per second, to manage water levels. The outflow could be reduced by the end of the week, she said, adding that the lake will begin building up to its summer pool levels in late May.
While substantial rainfall could change the water level forecasts, Stoflet said the next few days at least look positive.
“That’s always the factor that lingers out there, but as it stands, it looks relatively dry for next week,” Stoflet said.
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