Forecasts relieve flooding fears

April 16, 2014

Anyone who was in Iowa City in the summer of 2008 remembers the massive amount of flooding. This winter, Iowa’s snowfall was only slightly below the winter of 2008 at 47.4 inches.

“What we have seen so far is the main response that we will get from the snowmelt,” said Maren Soflet, NOAA.

Of course, there are many other factors involved in flooding: how much rainfall we have, how frozen the ground is, and the proximity of the rain and snow.

“So many factors are involved with flooding it is hard to tell when and if Iowa City will flood,” Soflet said.

According to the Quad-City Times, n 2008 Iowa City received 48.7 inches of snow. However, The snowiest winter was the winter of 1978-79 in which Iowa City received 52.9 inches of snow. That year there was no major flooding.

“When we have a lot of snow this time of year, people tend to get more concerned about flooding then they need to be,” Soflet said.

The amount of rainfall is a large contributor to flooding, and in 2008 Iowa City received 24.09 inches, 10 inches above normal.

“If there is a lot of rain people will get more and more nervous,” Soflet said. “It is very important to stay calm during flooding season.”

If there is a lot of rain people will get more and more nervous. It is very important to stay calm during flooding season.”

— Maren Soflet, NOAA

The amount of frost in the ground also affects flooding. When the ground is too hard it cannot absorb water. In 2008 Iowa City had 2 to 3 feet frost depth.

“A lot of snow runs off because the ground is frozen,” Soflet said. “That makes the rivers rise.”

Flooding affects many parts of everyday Iowan life, such as farming, ability to go to school, businesses and more.

“The general mentality of farmers these days is ‘We’ll deal with it when it comes,’” Philip Prybil, higher ground farmer, said.

Concern over how drastically farmers are affected by floods has been common, but riverbed farmers, who would be affected most, know what to expect when floods happen, and higher land farmers generally aren’t affected at all.

“We always take it [flooding] into account when we farm,” Prybil said. “It changes how much we plant, when we till, and so on.”

Unless an unforeseen storm moves in, Iowa City will not be flooded. It’s been forecast that El Niño, an accumulation of warm water that changes climates all over the world, and causes flooding as well droughts, won’t affect this spring. Adding to that comfort, almanacs and weather forecasts for April suggest there will be no major flooding.

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