PIERRE, S.D. (DRG News) – Sunshine and temperatures in the mid-40s are melting the snow in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Deputy Commander of the US Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District Lt. Col. James Startzell says severe flooding at Sioux Falls, Yankton and further south into Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri is happening because there’s no way to regulate how much water flows out of the James, Big Sioux and Vermillion Rivers into the Missouri. He says local, state, county and federal officials are doing what they can to mitigate the situation.
Last fall and early winter, the Corps moved water out of the various upper system reservoirs, bringing them down to a level to accommodate spring runoff.
Chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management Office in Omaha John Remus says they can control water releases from dams in the upper parts of the Missouri River so as not to exacerbate the situation downstream. He says the Oahe Reservoir has room to hold what comes down from up north– as long as a major rain incident doesn’t occur.
National Weather Service Missouri Basin River Forecast Center Hydrologist Kevin Low (like wow) says there’s currently an above average amount of snowpack in eastern South Dakota and the upper reaches of the Missouri River Dam System.
The Garrison Dam near Riverdale, ND, and the Oahe Dam at Pierre are the two biggest reservoirs along the upper Missouri River Dam System having nearly 50-million acre feet of combined water storage.
As of Thursday morning, the Oahe Reservoir level was at 11.85 feet below flood stage (1620’) while Garrison Dam was 16.92 feet below its flood stage (1854’).