The Army Corps of Engineers has temporarily reduced releases from a flood-control reservoir on the Missouri River — but will increase the volume of water it sends downstream starting Wednesday due to an abnormally soggy start to September.
“Mother Nature has been very fickle these last few months,” Kevin Grode of the Army Corps of Engineers said during a conference call with reporters Monday.
Grode said the soil in the upper Missouri River basin is “just like a wet sponge” and that’s going to cause problems in October, November and December.
“If we continue seeing very cloudly and conditions where it’s constantly raining every day, then we won’t see that evaporation that we normally see in the fall months,” he said. “Normally in the fall months, it’s dry. It’s windy. We see dust. You know, we see brown grass, but we’re not seeing that over these past couple of years during the fall months.”
The Big Sioux River is flooding in northwest Iowa. The excessive rainfall in South Dakota last week — more than 10 inches in some areas — will be exacerbated by above-average precipitation for the remainder of 2019, according to Grode.
Army Corps officials say Missouri River levee repairs in southwest Iowa are proceeding this week, but officials say water will begin to flow back through breached levees that have not been repaired. Matt Krajewski. readiness branch chief with the Army Corps’ Omaha district, said crews have completed initial work to close 12 levee breaches, with 21 more on their list.
“While we don’t anticipate any more damages to homes or communities again, you know, life safety is paramount and risk is increased,” he told reporters, “so folks back behind those levees need to be cognizant of what the National Weather Service is putting out and act accordingly.”
There hasn’t been a day so far in September when it hasn’t rained somewhere in the upper Missouri River basin.