NWS predicts higher than average flooding after near-record breaking snowfall

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The Quad Cities could still be feeling the wrath of our winter weather for weeks to come. The National Weather Service says this year’s snow will lead to a lot more flooding.

The service publishes a flooding forecast every spring and our local agency says this year’s outlook is worse than normal. 

“I think we’re going to have a pretty busy spring,” said NWS hydrologist Jessica Brooks.

Almost non-stop winter storms have Brooks predicting a very flooded spring.

“Not only just on the Mississippi River, but on all of our tributaries, as well,” she said.

As snow and ice melt, the water levels rise, but Brooks said a lot of the flooding in the Quad Cities is determined by snow in the Twin Cities. 

“All that water equivalent has to come down through here,” Brooks said. “So the probabilities are pretty high for at least minor flooding pretty much across the whole region.”

To put that in perspective, during a normal year there’s a 20 percent chance of reaching major flood stage at the Rock Island Arsenal. This year that probability is bumped up to 80 percent, according to Brooks.

That could mean flooded roads, flooded homes and, because the ground is so wet, delayed planting for farmers. 

“It’s all saturated. Nothing’s going to soak in,” Brooks said.

So when will we start seeing the impact? It could be this weekend. Our team of meteorologists are predicting more rain.

“We could see some rising levels on the rivers this weekend. Maybe even some ice breakup on the rivers so the ice jam potential is still there.”

We already saw ice jams earlier this month near Colona. Brooks said those are another main cause of flooding and they’re harder to predict.

At this point, Brooks said the only factor that could help decrease flood potential is a gradual warm up. The slower the snow melts, the fewer the floods.

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