Missouri River Basin Conditions

MRNRC 07_credit Paul Lepisto

The Corps has released the water stored in the exclusive flood control zone of the Missouri River reservoir system. This provides the system’s full storage capacity for the 2017 runoff season that starts March 1. The 2016 runoff above Sioux City totaled 24.2 million acre feet (MAF). That’s 96 percent of the average of 25.3 MAF. (An acre foot is the amount of water needed to cover an acre of land one foot deep.)

So far this winter, the upper plains – especially areas of North Dakota and parts of South Dakota  have experienced heavy snowfall. North Dakota had its second wettest December in 122 years; South Dakota had the third wettest December in recorded history. As of mid-January, the mountain snowpack was 83 percent of average above Fort Peck Dam and 113 percent of average from Fort Peck to Garrison Dam in North Dakota. The mountain snowpack usually peaks by mid-April.

At this point the Corps believes the reservoir system has the storage capacity for the runoff from the water from this year’s upper basin snow when it melts in May and June.  Typically the upper basin snow pack peaks in mid-April.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that 2016 was warmest year in recorded history. It was the second warmest (behind 2012) in the continental United States since record-keeping began in 1895. The earth’s average annual temperature was 54.9 degrees Fahrenheit – 2.9 F above the 20th-century average. The average low temperature was 43.1 F the highest minimum temperature on record.