MUSCATINE — The worst of the flooding this spring may be over in Muscatine.
According to a release from the city Tuesday, the Mississippi River crested April 10 at 21.95 feet, the third crest this spring and the sixth highest all-time at the Muscatine gauge, but the river is slowly receding and is expected to continue to into the middle of May before dropping below flood stage.
The Mississippi River was at 20.37 feet at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday and is forecast to drop below major flood stage of 20 feet on April 22.
That forecast can change depending on the amount of precipitation in the Upper Mississippi River Valley, according to the release.
“Right now the forecast is for the Mississippi River to stay between 20.2 and 20.4 feet through the weekend,” Brian Stineman, director of the Department of Public Works, said. “Once we get below 20-feet, and have confidence it will stay below that mark, we should be able to reopen 2nd Street and Mississippi Drive.”
That is all dependent on an unsettled weather pattern that is expected over the next two weeks and additional snow melt across the Upper Mississippi River Valley.
The National Weather Service in Davenport anticipates continued warm temperatures will promote additional melting of the snow pack in Minnesota and Wisconsin accumulated in last week’s winter storm. The snowmelt crest should reach Muscatine by late April or early May but should not result in rises higher than already observed peak crests. Heavy rainfall, however, has the potential to cause higher crests than currently forecast.
The Mississippi River has been above flood stage of 16-feet since March 15 and above major flood stage of 20-feet since March 22.
Once the Mississippi River falls below 20 feet, and staff is confident it will stay below 20 feet, Stineman said the city will open Structure 2, the flood wall on 2nd Street; remove Structure 1, the flood gate at the entrance to HNI off of Mississippi Drive, and reopen Mississippi Drive to traffic.
The flood panels around the historic homes at the intersection of Mississippi Drive and Mulberry Avenue will remain up for the time being as city staff completes the installation and safety checks of the installation. The installation and inspection is required every three years by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Efforts to clean up Riverside Park will begin as the river continues to recede. The park will remain closed, however, until all debris has been removed and all surfaces have been washed down. Public Works, Parks and Recreation and the Muscatine Fire Department will be involved in the cleanup effort, which will not begin until the river stays below 19 feet.
A wet autumn followed by heavy snowfall this past winter in the Upper Mississippi River Valley led to the spring flooding. The first crest at Muscatine came on March 18 at 19.34 feet and, after a brief drop, a second crest occurred on March 25 at 20.73 feet. Again the river had a brief drop before rising to 21.95 feet on April 10.
That third crest is the sixth highest in history at Muscatine and the third highest April flood. In 1965, following another wet autumn and snowy winter, the Mississippi River crested at 24.81 feet on April 29, a level that held the record for the highest crest until the 1993 flood. The second highest April flood came in 2001 when the river crested at 23.50 feet on April 25. The 2001 flood is the fifth highest crest overall.