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Flooding risk low despite recent moisture

gavins point dam
Army Corps of Engineers
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Ariel view of Crest Road and Gavins Point Dam

Seventy percent of the Missouri River basin is in some category of drought.

Officials say that means the flooding risk this year is low.

The state is entering the third year of drought conditions.

That’s despite recent rains and snow.

But Army Corps of Engineers officials anticipate an average year for river levels.

John Remus is the chief of Missouri River Basin Water Management.

“Right now, compared to other droughts, we’re kind of on par right now with where we were during the last extended drought from 2000 to 2007,” Remus says. “We’re not in what I would call uncharted territory, here.”

Officials say the above-average precipitation and below-average temperatures are indicative of a La Nina pattern. However, the rains won’t last long.

Doug Kluck is a Climatologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He says the Missouri River basin has an increased likelihood of above-normal temperatures through August.

“The even worse indication here is that we will have below-normal precipitation here over the entire basin,” Kluck says. “I hope we’re really wrong. I hope this is one of those times where you can say, ‘Oh good, those guys were wrong about their seasonal forecast.’”

Recent rainfall has led to some moderate level flooding in the Jim River through Mitchell. The snow and subsequent rain led to improved soil moisture conditions in North Dakota and northern South Dakota.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.