Melting and Flooding: 2019 Style
For some years, the U.S, Army Corps of Engineers has been accurately describing their work, as relates to rivers, dams, and flooding, as flood management rather than flood control. Even with dams, levees, impoundments, and channelization of rivers, the conditions that can produce floods, especially with 21st-century unusual snow patterns and concentrated heavy rain events, are beyond full control.
2011 was a year of dramatic flooding along the multi-state path of the mighty Missouri River. 2019 was another such year. On March 20, 2019, Kim Norvell of the Des Moines Register was informing readers that not only was a particularly wet spring forecast across the state but also the ground was already saturated and snow was still melting in Minnesota and South Dakota in the river’s basin to the north. Already on March 14, 2019, the Fremont County Iowa Emergency Management Facebook page was posting a flood warning due to rain and snowmelt for multiple counties in Iowa including Monona. Courtney Fiorini of the Globe Gazette was reporting on March 14 that Monona County was among those declared a disaster by Governor Kim Reynolds.
While in March of 2019, in Iowa, the southwest part of the state was experiencing the worst of the flooding with some 30 confirmed breaches of the levees south of Council Bluffs, meteorologists were keeping an eye on rivers in northwest Iowa, such as the Little Sioux, Maple, and Soldier Rivers in Monona County. Many had reached or would soon reach flood stage, and the snow up north had not yet fully melted.
The next week Brett Hayworth of the Sioux City Journal, while reporting on flooding in Woodbury County caused by a breach in the levee on the West Fork of the Little Sioux River there, added that the Monona County Sheriff’s Office had reached out to residents and travelers on Facebook telling them of the “extensive roadway damage throughout the county. Recent weather conditions have caused dangerous erosion and water flooding over roads.”
Sources: On-line: Fremont County Iowa Emergency Management, Facebook, March 14, 2019; Kim Norvell, “Number of breaches up to 30,” Des Moines Register, March 20, 2019; Courtney Fiorini, “Flood warning issued for north Iowa,” Globe Gazette, March 14, 2019; Brett Hayworth, “To Spare Recovery Costs in Flooded Hornick,” Sioux City Journal, March 27, 2019; image: Nebraska Governor’s Office, ZUMA, reproduced in The New Yorker, April 3, 2019.