MUSCATINE, Iowa – While still recovering from one of its worst winters in history, Muscatine now faces the consequences of that winter weather with a Mississippi River that is on the rise. A flood watch is in effect for Muscatine and that will probably change to a warning later this week.
And if the long range forecast for the Mississippi is any indication, the crest of 20.2 feet on Tuesday is just the beginning of what could be a very wet spring along the riverfront. The Mississippi River was at 11.52 feet Wednesday (March 13).
The City of Muscatine expects to close off access to Riverside Park by 5 p.m. Friday (March 15) and close Mississippi Drive from Iowa to Mulberry Avenue Sunday afternoon. The Department of Public Works will also begin preparation of sand bags Friday.
Brian Stineman, Director of the Department of Public Works, said that the levees have been inspected and are ready for the rising waters.
“The forecast is for major flooding this spring,” Stineman said. “It wasn’t that long ago that we were pushing snow and spreading salt and sand. Now we are busy preparing and positioning assets for the forecasted flooding events.”
The flood stage at Muscatine is 16 feet with moderate flooding occurring at 18 feet and major flooding at 20 feet.
The reconstruction of Mississippi Drive accomplished one of the primary goals for the project and that was raising the roadbed so the street would remain open longer and closed for a shorter period of time. The street received its first time last October when the river crested at 20.65 feet.
Before the reconstruction, flood waters would seep out of the Mississippi Drive and Walnut Street storm inlet at 18.2 feet with the street covered by 19.5 feet. Observations from last October found that the seepage out of the storm inlet did not begin until 19.2 feet and the road was not covered until closer to 20 feet.
The first flood of 2019 comes on the heels of the second Spring Flood and Water Resources Outlook released by the National Weather Service office in Davenport last week. That report indicates that there is a 25-to-50 percent chance of record flooding during the last three weeks of April. A record crest of 25.61 feet was recorded on July 9, 1993, in Muscatine.
The report states that the potential for widespread flooding remains high this spring with soils nearly saturated and frozen, increased snow packs across northern Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, and an active weather pattern that shows signs of bringing warmer temperatures, increased rainfall, and the potential for additional heavy snow across the northern parts of the Upper Mississippi River basin.
DPW Flood Resources
2018 Flood Preparation Overview
NWS Flood Potential Outlook