This winter has been brutal, with seemingly endless snowfall and cold. It has been that way for not only us but for areas North of here. Areas that feed the flow of the Missouri River. New numbers on Monday have the Army Corps of Engineers in Pierre again thinking about flooding on the Missouri.
"The snow pack is increasing um, it's up to 122 percent of normal so we're on the high side. We're tracking closer to, and we all hate to say that, closer to 2011 snow volume in the mountains," said Eric Stasch, Army Corps of Engineers Project Manager at the Oahe Dam in Pierre, South Dakota.
Eric Stasch is the Army Corps of Engineers Project Manager at the Oahe Dam in Pierre. Higher snowfall levels up North will provide increasing runoff once that snow melts. That runoff will go into the Missouri and cause it to rise. With a couple of months of potential snowfall still to come, it's entirely possible the Missouri will flood again this year. The Army Corps is taking the risk so seriously that computer simulations are being performed to see how much water the Missouri can hold under current conditions.
"There in the process of running some models to see what would happen if starting right now, what if they ran the 2011 flood through the system and starting right now, what if they ran the 1997 flood through the system. So they're trying to see what impact those things would have so we could be on the plus side, on the positive side of this thing," said Stasch.
There are differences right now compared to 2011, both good and bad. In the good column, Missouri River Reservoirs have less water in them. Meaning they can handle more water in the coming months and that might offset a flood. However, in the bad column, a nearly four foot deep layer of frost along the river. Meaning any future rain and melting snow wont be absorbed by the ground, it will simply run off and add to the river's level.
"It's a significant item right now. But again that being built into our models for the short term," said Stasch.
The short-term outlook is this, if everything stays as is, any flooding on the river should be minimum but the chances of conditions staying exactly the same for the next few months are slight.
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