The experts predict runoff into the Missouri River system will be above-normal this spring, but the region is not expected to be hit with any flooding.
Nicole Shorney, a hydraulic engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, says snow pack is very low in the upper basin due to several warm snaps and the relatively mild winter.
“The heaviest snow liquid contents range from two-to-four inches in some localized areas of central North Dakota, although the heaviest amounts are outside the Missouri River basin,” Shorney says. “Some areas of central Montana and north-central Wyoming also have remaining Plains snow that has less than an inch of liquid content. The rest of the upper basin has no Plains snow remaining.” Shorney says runoff so far this year has been above-normal.
“February runoff was more than double its average due to Plains snow melt from much warmer-than-normal February temperatures,” Shorney says. “Focusing on the March-to-July runoff season, the time when we see our highest runoff, we’re expecting March runoff to be slightly above-average for the upper basin as the remainder of the Plains snow pack enters the system.” Shorney says they expect slightly above-normal runoff into late spring.
“For the Oahe to Sioux City regions, we’re forecasting normal runoff for the April-to-July period,” she says. “Our annual runoff forecast is 29.1-million acre feet or 115-percent of normal.” Corps officials say all of the water in the flood storage of the reservoirs has been sent downstream. Releases from Gavins Point Dam will increase later this month to support downstream navigation.
(By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)