Spring flooding

DES MOINES — Dealing with ice and snow may be more immediate concerns for Iowans, but Witold Krajewski says it’s not too soon to be thinking about sandbags and temporary flood barriers.

The outlook for spring flooding is “not so good,” the director of the Iowa Flood Center at the University of Iowa told lawmakers Jan. 28.

“At this point in time it’s very difficult to pinpoint where the trouble could be,” Krajewski said after a presentation to the Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee.

A map he shared with House and Senate members showed Mississippi River basinwide soil moisture data with the wettest or second-wettest soil moisture on record for the past 65 years.

“But it’s not only the water that is stored in the soil and the snowpack, but also when storms will hit and also how the spring warming develops,” he said.

Comparing the “snow water equivalent,” Krajewski said most of Iowa is in the same 1- to 3-inch range as a year ago. However, in far northern Minnesota, the snow water equivalent is in the “above 4.9-inch” range.

Krajewski recently participated in a meeting in Boston with agencies that monitor streamflow and other indicators of flooding, “and it looks like the situation would be at the upper end of the possibilities for a number of locations throughout the state.”

Krajewski told lawmakers he wasn’t making a prediction, but offering an “outlook.”

“Hopefully, it will be nothing, but you should be mindful of the situation,” he said. “The best thing would be a gentle, nice warm-up so the water can drain.”

But, he said, “I think we all should be concerned.”

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