The first flood outlook of the season indicates there is an about 90% chance the Mississippi River at Dubuque will reach major flood stage between now and mid-May.
The outlook from the National Weather Service in the Quad Cities released Friday indicates there is an 86% or greater chance of the river hitting flood stage during that time span at every NWS-monitored location from Dubuque to Burlington, Iowa. The lowest of those percentages — 86% — is at Bellevue, Iowa.
“A wet fall of 2019 set the stage for elevated flooding potential for spring 2020,” the NWS states. “Very wet soil conditions remain across a large portion of the Upper Midwest, with river levels running well above normal for late winter, and well above normal liquid water content in the snow across the northern half of the Upper Mississippi River watershed.”
The major flood stage at Dubuque’s railroad bridge is 21.5 feet. Current NWS projections show the Mississippi River is predicted to have its highest chance of topping that flood stage during the first half of April.
“The highest concern for flooding this spring is on the Mississippi River, where the risk for major flooding is much above normal,” the NWS states.
In 2019, the river was above flood stage at Dubuque’s railroad bridge for a record 86 consecutive days.
But the flooding likely won’t be limited to just the Mississippi. The NWS notes that the “potential for reaching flood stage is above normal for nearly all rivers” in eastern Iowa and northwest Illinois.