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For several months, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has reported levels on the Missouri River would remain higher than normal for a prolonged period of time.

That message was delivered once again Thursday.

Corps officials said widespread and heavy rainfall in September in the upper Missouri River basin above Sioux City, Iowa, resulted in another month of much above average runoff into the river. Precipitation during September was more than 200 percent of normal in eastern Montana, much of North Dakota, portions of South Dakota and northern Nebraska.

"In response to the increased upstream runoff, the Corps announced that releases from Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota, the southern most Corps dam in the upper basin, have been increased from 70,000 cubic feet of water per second to 80,000 cfs.

"This release rate is more than twice the average release for this time of the year," said John Remus, chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Missouri River Basin Water Management Division. "As a result of the high reservoir levels at our dams and the forecast above-average runoff for the remainder of the fall, releases from all our dams will be much above average through November, to evacuate all stored flood waters prior to the start of the 2020 runoff season. We are monitoring the situation very closely and will make any necessary adjustments. Failure to evacuate the stored flood water will lead to increased risk of flooding in 2020."

Seven public meetings will be conducted throughout the Missouri River basin later this month to update residents in the region on current conditions and the planned operation of the reservoir system during the remaining fall months as well as present the draft plans for operating the river system during 2020.

The seventh and final meeting will be at 1 p.m. Oct. 25 at Capitol Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City.

As of Thursday afternoon, the river in Jefferson City was just above 25 feet, 2 feet above flood stage of 23 feet. The National Weather Service in St. Louis forecast the river to hit 26 feet this afternoon and stay near that level through Sunday afternoon before receding and getting down to just below 20 feet Wednesday.

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