High rainfall may lead to record flooding in Northwest Iowa by Saturday


Iowa Environmental Mesonet graphic of rainfall totals from 6 a.m. June 15 to 6 a.m. June 18.
Iowa Environmental Mesonet graphic of rainfall totals from 6 a.m. June 15 to 6 a.m. June 18.

With sections of Iowa seeing as much as ten inches of rain over the last 72 hours and more rain in the forecast, Iowans are bracing for record flooding and water damage across the state.

The National Weather Service predicts the Big Sioux River at Sioux City to reach dangerously high levels by Saturday, topping out at 109 feet, 0.7 feet higher than the record of 108.3 feet set in April of 1969. Once the river level reaches 108 feet, sandbagging will be required to protect Interstate 29 from flooding.

Big Sioux River level predictions for this week (National Weather Service)
Big Sioux River level predictions for this week (National Weather Service)

The predictions come at a time when Northwest Iowa is already overwhelmed by rainfall, with a levee break in Rock Valley Tuesday causing the city to lose power to three of its four wells and inundation of drinking water treatment plants putting the area under a boil warning. The city is currently under a state of emergency.

The Iowa Flood Center’s Iowa Flood Information System (IFIS) currently lists areas along the Big Sioux River under a Major Flood Stage, with Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City areas also at risk. Continued rainfall this week will continue to raise water levels across the state. To see current levels and real-time information on Iowa’s rivers, visit the IFIS website.

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