National Weather Service releases 2021's first flood outlook

DES MOINES, Iowa -- The National Weather Service's first flood outlook of the season has concerns for Central and Eastern Iowa.

"As we get into the later parts of February and early March especially if we have slightly warmer temperatures, with the snow pack of 10 inches and the water equivalent of about two inches that all is eventually going to be running off into the rivers," says National Weather Service Meteorologist Alex Krull.

He says any more snow before spring could increase the potential for flooding.

"If melting of the current snowpack is very gradual, and that water has time to move downstream all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, we won't have all the flooding issues. If we have a lot of snow on the ground, then get a sudden warming, followed by heavy rainfall--that could augment potential flooding problems," Krull says.

He says that's what happened in 2019, when there was record flooding on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers as they ran on either side of Iowa.

One thing that might help ease the potential for flooding--months of drought conditions in Central and Western Iowa.

"The fact that we had drought-like conditions in the fall leading into the winter will help out, especially with the snowpack that's on the ground because a lot of the river levels went down," Krull says.

He says they're also keeping an eye out for ice jams in Central and Northern Iowa as rivers start to melt in the next month.

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