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Early Melt In Missouri River Basin

US Army Corps of Engineers

The Army Corps of Engineers say above normal temperatures have melted all of the plains snowpack in the Missouri River Basin. Officials say that means runoff is coming early this year and the region needs spring and summer rain to prevent drought.

Jody Farhat is with the Army Corps of Engineers. She says conditions in the Missouri River Basin look similar to last year. In 2015 the snowpack also melted early and drought was expected until heavy rains came in May. Farhat says similar conditions could occur this spring ... but lack of rain could cause drought.

“What we’ve seen so far in 2016 is that we’ve had very spotty and light snowpack and that melted during February and as well as much of the river ice. So what it means is that we’ve got our runoff that we’d normally see in March and April during the month of February. We are still watching the mountain snow pack, but it is coming in below average this year too,” says Farhat.

Farhat says the six main reservoirs in the Missouri River are currently at normal levels.

“Right now we’re predicting run-off for the year to be below average, but since we’re starting with the reservoir right where it’s supposed to be, we wouldn’t expect to see a lot of impacts to things like boat ramps or water intakes in the first or second year of a drought,” says Farhat.

The Corps of Engineers are planning to host a series of public meetings in April to explain plans for operating the reservoir system.

Spring Public Meetings

Five public meetings will be conducted throughout the basin April 12-14. Meeting times and locations are listed below.

Tuesday, April 12 – Smithville, Mo.

Start time:  11 a.m.

Jerry Litton Visitor Center

16311 DD Hwy

Tuesday, April 12 – Nebraska City, Iowa

Start time:  5 p.m.

Lewis and Clark Missouri River Visitor Center

100 Valmont Drive

Wednesday, April 13 – Fort Peck, Mont.

Start time:  11 a.m.

Fort Peck Interpretative Center

Lower Yellowstone Road

Wednesday, April 13 - Bismarck, N.D.

Start time:  6 p.m.

Bismarck Civic Center

315 South 5th Street

Thursday, April 14 – Pierre, S.D.

Start time:  11 a.m.

Capitol Lake Visitor Center

500 E Capitol Ave.