Iowa flood forecasts becoming the norm

The Mississippi River above flood stage last year. Photo by Jim Elias

Government forecasters are warning that Iowa is in store for more significant flooding this spring. A state researcher says these predictions have become all too common.

The National Weather Service recently predicted the chances of major flooding along the Mississippi River are “greater than 95%.” And in the western part of the state, there’s an elevated risk for flooding along the Missouri River.

Nate Young, associate director of the Iowa Flood Center, says it isn’t surprising to hear these predictions – given how the state is already dealing with the effects of unpredictable weather patterns.

“The climate has definitely changed,” says Young. “And we’re seeing that every year in the state of Iowa. We have major flooding in one part of the state or the other.”

Last year, flooding in Iowa resulted in $2 billion worth of damage. Earlier this month, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill that provides more than $20 million to communities trying recover from the disaster.

Young says his office is working with various agencies across the state to establish best management practices for containing water on the landscape. But he notes those projects need more funding.

In the meantime, he says the current cycle will continue.

“As a rule, we’re going to experience an increased flood risk for the foreseeable future,” says Young. “There’s no indications it’s going to improve any time soon.”

Agencies like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say they’re monitoring the situation for areas that could be impacted by this year’s flood predictions, and are helping those communities prepare.

— Mike Moen, Iowa Public News Service