What Should Be Considered A ‘Major’ Flood?
After two consecutive major floods that weren't so major this month, changes might be considered in how we designate the severity of floods.
As I was starting to worry the first time we heard 16.5 feet projected earlier this month (16 feet is considered "major" flood stage on the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids), a co-worker told me it wasn't going to be a big deal for most of us--and that they probably shouldn't use that term for that level.
So, is the term "major" flooding misleading? Maybe so, because the National Weather Service is considering adjusting its flood level designations. City and county emergency management agencies would have to sign off, and while city leaders have learned a lot about how to deploy temporary flood protection when needed, they are less confident with the potential changes until further progress is made on permanent flood protection.
"Major" floods like the two this month can also be deceiving, because a lot of work, time and money is spent on temporary flood preparation in advance. Flood preparation in September alone has cost the city $300,000 in manpower and supplies, for very little impact.
Changing the threshold for what is considered major, moderate and minor flooding might make sense. In any case, any change will be long in the future, and no specific measurements have been discussed.