The Army Corps of Engineers has reduced reservoir releases along the Missouri River to ensure winter water release rates will provide water for downstream needs and reduces the chance of flooding due to ice jams. Winter releases from Gavins Point Dam on the Nebraska-South Dakota border will be at least 17,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) – slightly higher than the normal 12,000 to 17,000 cfs due to higher than average runoff in late summer and fall in the upper basin. The higher winter releases will generate additional hydropower during what is usually a peak demand period and benefit municipal and industrial water intakes located below Gavins Point Dam.
The Corps still plans to evacuate the water remaining in flood storage in the reservoir system, if conditions allow this winter. This will ensure next year’s runoff season starts on March 1 with the full flood control capacity of the reservoir system available.
In the November climate and drought outlook, meteorologists from the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration reported that a La Niña system has set up in the Pacific Ocean, which could influence weather patterns in the Midwest during the winter. A La Niña system typically results in somewhat cooler temperatures and brings a higher probability of above-average precipitation during the winter months. Currently, drought conditions persist in areas of the western Dakotas and eastern Montana.