Army Corps: Snowpack levels similar to 2011, Missouri flooding p - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Army Corps: Snowpack levels similar to 2011, Missouri flooding possible

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 Troubling new numbers tonight from the Army Corps of Engineers show conditions may be right for another flood on the Missouri River.

 The Corps is concerned enough that they are running computer simulations, trying to prepare for what may happen on the river.

 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. And new numbers on Monday have the Army Corps of Engineers in Pierre again thinking about flooding on the Missouri.

 "The snowpack is increasing. It's up to 122% of normal. So we're on the high side. We're thinking closer to ..and we hate to say it...we're thinking closer to the 2011 snow level in the mountains." Eric Stasch is the Army Corps of Engineers project manager at the Oahe Dam in Pierre. Higher snowfall level up north will provide increasing runoff once that snow melts. That runoff will go into the Missouri and cause it to rise. And with a couple of months of potential snowfall still to come, it is 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. "Starting right now, what if they ran the 2011 flood through the system. and starting right now what happen if they ran the 1998 flood through the system? They're trying to see what impacts those things would have so we can be on the positive side of this thing."

 There are differences right now computer 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....which may offset a flood. But 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 outlook."

 The short term outlook is this; if everything stays as is, any flooding on the Missouri should be minimal. But the chances of conditions stay exactly the same for the next few months are slight.

 The record flow here at the Oahe Spillway is 160,000 cubic feet of water per second...and that happened during the flood of 2011. While the Army Corps hopes they don't reach those record level this year they say they wont know with any certainty for another couple of months.

 The Army Corps is set to release more information about the flood risk for the Missouri River next Tuesday.

 Of course you can count on KSFY for continuing coverage.

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