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Missouri River remains low heading into spring flood season

March 4, 2021 GMT

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — This year is shaping up to be drier than normal throughout the Missouri River basin, and the risk of flooding is generally below normal throughout the region because conditions remain dry and snowpack levels are below average.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday officials expect only about 84% of the normal amount of water will flow down the Missouri River in 2021.

The Corps’ John Remus said the extreme cold in February slowed the flow of water into the reservoirs last month because many tributaries to the river became locked up with ice.

The Corps now estimates that 21.8 million acre feet (26.89 cubic kilometers) of water will flow down the river this year. That is below the average of 25.8 million acre feet (31.82 cubic kilometers).

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The National Weather Service says that even though flood risk is below normal, some flooding is still possible this spring in areas that are prone to it across Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri because heavy thunderstorms can create flooding anytime.

The Corps said it has increased the amount of water flowing out of Gavins Point Dam on the Nebraska-South Dakota border slightly to 19,000 cubic feet per second (538.02 cubic meters) but the river remains at a low level heading into spring. That’s slightly below what is typical for this time of year and up from 17,000 cubic feet per second (481.4 cubic meters) a month ago.