Corps of Engineers says flood risk is low to very low

News, Weather

February 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Another federal agency is predicting a lesser chance of flooding this spring in the Missouri River valley. A forecast from the National Weather Service last week said the odds of flooding were average-to-below-average. Now, the U-S Army Corps of Engineers says the flood outlook in the river basin is low-to-very-low. Jody Farhat, director of the Corps’ Water Control Center in Omaha, says water storage is right on the expected mark. “Total water currently in storage is 56.4-million acre feet, which is 0.4-million acre feet below the base of the annual flood control pool,” Farhat says. “This is a slight increase from the beginning of the month, primarily due to the warm temperatures that have freed up some of the water that was stored in river ice. In a typical winter, we would see this return flow coming in March, so we’re simply getting it a little early this year.” Farhat says there is not much snow on the ground in the region.

“Currently, there’s very little plains snowpack in the Missouri River basin,” Farhat says. “Most locations are reporting less than an inch of water equivalent and the heaviest amounts are all downstream of the main stem system,” which is about half of what they’d normally have at this time. Farhat says they have moved out all the water that was left over from last year’s record flooding on the waterway. “All of our 2011 floodwater has been evacuated from the system and as of today, we have 400-thousand acre feet of additional flood control storage available,” Farhat says. “Both the plains and mountain snowpack are below average and are significantly lower than last year at this time.” Farhat says despite the good numbers, conditions can change quickly and localized flooding could still occur almost anywhere in the basin. She says there has been high water in some part of the basin in each of the last 25 years.

(by Matt Kelley/Radio Iowa)