Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

February 21, 2013

Flood? What flood?

MATT MILNER
CNHI

OTTUMWA — It may seem odd to be thinking about spring floods while Iowa gets hit by a winter storm, but the first prediction came out Thursday.

The National Weather Service's hydrologic outlook put Iowa at low risk of spring flooding, no surprise given that more than half the state remains in severe drought. But there is some risk as winter ends.

One of the big questions is when the ground will thaw. Frozen ground, particularly frozen ground with ice in it, won't absorb much moisture. If areas with large amounts of snow on the ground see sudden warming, the snow melts without thawing the ground. The melting snow runs off, raising the potential for localized flooding.

Most area sites covered in the report show some chance of minor flooding, a stage much easier to reach with sudden, one-time events like a major snowmelt. The chances of moderate or major flooding, which would more likely require consistent precipitation, are under 5 percent.

This isn't the last flood forecast. An updated version will be released on March 7.