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Flood risk in the Quad Cities increasing for spring 2023

The Mississippi River is now at an 80% chance of reaching or exceeding the major flood stage by the end of May.

MOLINE, Ill. — The National Weather Service has released the flood outlook for the 2023 spring season. Overall, our risk for flooding has increased both on the Mississippi River and our smaller rivers like the Rock and Wapsi. 

The increased risk for the Mississippi is due to additional snowfall that has fallen north of us in the upper Mississippi basin. For our smaller rivers, the increase is due to a rise in soil moisture and higher streamflows. 

Credit: WQAD

Watching temperature trends north with the heavier snowpack is going to be very important. The Minneapolis area has seen over 2 feet of above-normal snowfall. Different story locally where generally our whole area has been below normal for snowfall this season. The rate of that snowmelt will be a main factor when assessing the flood risk and how severe it could be.

Credit: WQAD

Recently, our area has seen some heavier rounds of rain, which has already overwhelmed some of those smaller rivers. Future precipitation will also be a key player as we monitor our risk. The Climate Prediction Center has us in an above-normal range for precipitation through May. 

Credit: WQAD

With all these factors, the Mississippi River near Rock Island is showing over a 95% chance to meet or exceed the moderate flood stage. The probability for major flooding is also impressive, boosting from a 70% chance a few weeks ago to 82%. As for the probability of reaching the historic crest of 22.7 feet set in May of 2019? That sits at about 18%.

The third outlook was supposed to be the final outlook for the season, but the National Weather Service will do a bonus update in a few weeks since the flood risk continues to increase.

Here's a quick summary of other rivers throughout the Quad Cities and the associated flood risk:

Rock River near Moline & Joslin - Probability of meeting or exceeding the following stages:

  • Minor: >95%
  • Moderate: 51%
  • Major: 17%

Wapsipinnicon River near DeWitt - Probability of meeting or exceeding the following stages:

  • Minor: 83%
  • Moderate: 77%
  • Major: 50%

Cedar River near Conesville - Probability of meeting or exceeding the following stages:

  • Minor: 71%
  • Moderate: 12%
  • Major: <5%


Flood Outlook February 23: 

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