Conditions remain dry throughout Missouri river basin
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Conditions remain dry throughout the Missouri River basin, so officials are predicting that the amount of water flowing down the river this year will be below average again.
The dry forecast reduces the chance of widespread flooding along the river this spring, although some local flooding is still possible if chunks of ice block the flow of water or if heavy rains fall on an area.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday that last year was the 10th-driest year on record in the Missouri River basin. This year, runoff is expected to increase somewhat but it is expected to be only 84% of the long-term average.
Due to drought conditions throughout the second half of 2021, conservation efforts were implemented to preserve water flow for navigation and other authorized purposes. To further conserve water in the Missouri River Mainstem reservoir system, the Army Corps said minimum releases from Gavins Point Dam are scheduled this winter. The latest update shows that releases from Gavins Point were temporarily increased from 12,000 cfs to 16,000 cfs in late December and early January to mitigate some of the effects of the much colder temperatures across the lower basin. Releases are currently at 14,000 cfs.
“Releases were increased to replace water that was being locked up in river ice. We plan to return to the scheduled winter release after this next round of cold weather,” said John Remus, Chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management.
The dry conditions and low runoff have resulted in some near-record low water levels for the Missouri River near Omaha. The reading on Tuesday dropped to 6.83 feet, which currently stands as the 2nd lowest on record. Levels did rebound Wednesday and Thursday as releases from Gavin’s Point increased temporarily. River level forecasts currently have the Missouri River at Omaha dropping to 6.4 feet by Sunday, which would be a new record low for the gauge which is located on the 480 bridge from downtown to Council Bluffs.
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