OMAHA -- Missouri River reservoirs are prepared to capture what's expected to be above-average runoff in 2019.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday said forecast runoff for the year is 28.4 million acre-feet, 112 percent of average. Storage in the six reservoirs currently is at 56.1 MAF, leaving the entire 16.3 MAF flood control zone available for flood water storage.
"The forecast increased about 10 percent from last month due to the continued accumulation of mountain and plains snowpack in the upper basin," John Remus, chief of the corps' Missouri River Basin Water Management Division, said in a news release.
As of March 1, mountain snowpack, which normally peaks in April, ranged from 103 percent to 108 percent of average. Plains snowpack was moderate in Montana and the western Dakotas and moderate to heavy in the central and eastern Dakotas.
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Runoff in 2018 was 41.9 MAF, the third-highest total since record keeping began in 1898. The record is 61 MAF in 2011.
The Corps of Engineers will increase water releases from Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, South Dakota, later this week from 18,000 cubic feet per second to 20,000 cfs.
Releases will be adjusted later in March to provide adequate water levels for the 2019 navigation season, which begins April 1 at the mouth of the river near St. Louis.