OMAHA -- Releases from Gavins Point Dam are scheduled to be increased this week to continue to clear space in the Missouri River reservoirs to hold the spring runoff.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Tuesday that releases will be increased from 20,000 cubic feet per second to 24,000 cfs. Winter releases normally range from 12,000-17,000 cfs.
"The higher-than-average winter releases from Gavins Point will continue the evacuation of the stored flood waters from the 2018 runoff season," John Remus, chief of the corps' Missouri River Basin Water Management Division, said in a news release.
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Water levels in the river's reservoirs remain slightly above normal because of above-normal runoff in 2018. Runoff for 2018 was 41.9 million acre-feet, the third-highest total since record keeping began in 1898. The record is 61 MAF in 2011.
Because of the large runoff total, Gavins Point releases were above normal through the summer, fall and into the winter. As of Sunday, storage in the river's six reservoirs was 56.6 MAF, occupying 0.5 MAF of the 16.3 MAF flood control zone. Storage is expected to be at 56.1 MAF when the 2019 runoff season begins.
Early predictions place 2019 runoff at 25.7 MAF above Sioux City, 101 percent of the 25.3 MAF average. Mountain snowpack that feeds the Missouri River has begun to accumulate but is currently below average, the corps said. Current plains snowpack, soil moisture conditions and long-range precipitation outlooks also factor into the runoff forecast.