Fueled by widespread thunderstorms, the Quad-Cities' two major rivers are predicted to crest this weekend at levels that will rank in their top 10 for floods.
The Rock River might approach or set a record Sunday in Moline, while the Mississippi River at the Quad-Cities should reach a level Sunday that will put it anywhere from third to seventh highest, according to National Weather Service forecasts issued Thursday.
As the rain dissipated Thursday, residents, businesses, cities and emergency workers made preparations in earnest against the rising floodwaters.
Nettie Fogel spent the day getting everything in her house on North Shore Drive in Moline put away from the Rock River's wrath.
Neighbors helped her get the house shipshape while her husband, Tim, a riverboat captain, is away.
"He's calling me and telling me what to do," she said, telling the neighbors that he wanted the pontoon boat tied to a trailer and then to the bushes.
The Rock River at Moline is expected to crest Sunday morning near the record level of 16.38 feet. That record was set in 2008 during an ice jam. Flood stage is 12 feet.
"If it gets that high, we might not be able to stay in the house," Fogel said of her twin 10-year-old boys. "I would be wading in water waist-deep."
In Davenport, River Drive from Division Street in Davenport to Bettendorf was closed Thursday afternoon to start construction of the wall of Hesco barriers. That task is expected to take about a day-and-a-half, said Mike Clarke, the city's Public Works director.
Also on the city to-do list ahead of the weekend: a 2-foot-tall sandbag wall around Union Station, completion of the floodwall around Modern Woodmen Park, an elevated walkway to the baseball stadium and The River's Edge.
Public Works has delivered sand and sandbags to five to 10 addresses that requested them, Clarke said.
"They come from the places we've served before — the bait shop, a couple of River Drive businesses," he said.
Iowa American Water is also working to protect its plant located west of Mound Street, Clarke said. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in charge of that flood protection.
"We've been told they are in good shape and will be able to protect it," Clarke said.
Clarke said the thinking of city officials was that the Quad-Cities would dodge a flood since the winter wasn't very active.
"We thought we were going to get a bye," he said. "Then we got this precipitation event."
Meteorologist Donna Dubberke of the National Weather Service, Davenport, said flooding along the Mississippi River will rank somewhere in the top 10, from the third highest to the seventh highest.
The Mississippi River at Lock and Dam 15 in the Quad-Cities is expected to crest at 20.2 feet Sunday, she said. "If that happens, it will be the seventh-highest flood on record," she said.
Flood stage is 15 feet in the Quad-Cities.
At Illinois City, the Mississippi is expected to crest at 20.3 feet Monday morning, which would rank the sixth-highest level there, she added.
But the Rock River is getting the closest attention, she said.
"The Rock at Joslin is forecast to crest at 19.1 feet Saturday, which would be the second-highest crest," Dubberke said. "However, the record there is 19.24, so that record could be tied or broken."
The same is expected for the Rock at Moline, which is predicted to crest Sunday at 16.37 feet, while the record flood there is 16.38 feet set in 2008, she added.
Sgt. Randy Heisch of the Rock Island County Emergency Management Agency said his office is monitoring the flooding along both rivers.
"There's water up to the road on Illinois 92 near Loud Thunder Forest Preserve in Illinois City," Heisch said. "That's the Mississippi River. Everything else we're watching is about the Rock River from the Hillsdale area to where it dumps into the Mississippi River."
Dubberke said the storm system dumped 4.11 inches of rain officially recorded at the Quad-City International Airport in Moline. A daily record of 2.62 inches of that fell Wednesday.
"The problem was, the heaviest rain wasn't isolated to any one area like you get with a thunderstorm, while everywhere else gets a half-inch to an inch of rain," she said. "This was a widespread 3 to 5 inches of rain, or even higher locally. The sheer volume of water just had nowhere to go with the ground already saturated."
Forecast calls for bit of snow, rain
Today, the forecast calls for a chance of snow before 10 a.m., with the possibility of a rain and snow mix. The high is expected to reach 43 degrees.
The clouds begin clearing out tonight, with a low temperature of about 30 degrees.
Saturday is expected to be sunny with a high of 51 degrees, but on Sunday, rain chances re-enter the forecast and hang around at least through Wednesday, Dubberke added.