With gradual snow melt, Iowa’s spring flood risk remains ‘normal’

Des Moines, IA – Iowa was inundated by record or near-record flooding in 2019, followed by severe-to-extreme drought in 2020, drought that’s endured into 2021. What will this spring hold, as planting season is mere weeks away? Nathan Young is associate director of the Iowa Flood Center, based at the University of Iowa.

It’s been a cold and snowy winter, with some parts of the state reporting snowfall just during February ten to 14 inches deeper than usual. Still, so far, there are no indications of major flood threats. The flood center has a network of about 300 sensors placed on bridges in dozens of waterways all across the state.

Those sensors measure river levels every 15 minutes and communicate data to the center’s Iowa Flood Information System platform. It’s a Google Maps-based web interface that visualizes real-time flood information for the entire state and is freely available to all — including the National Weather Service.

A wealth of information about the state’s waterways is accessible to anyone on the Iowa Flood Information System website:

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