Missouri River flooding

Photo by Josephine May | Hiawatha World

A photo looking northeast over the Missouri River valley from the Four-State Lookout at White Cloud in March 2019 shows just a small portion of the devastation of local flooding from the mighty river.

There likely will be no relief from flooding on the Missouri River this coming year, as the prediction for runoff will be the ninth highest in recorded history.

This comes after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced the amount of runoff in 2019 came extremely close to breaking the record set in 2011.

John Remus, chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management office for the Northwestern Division of the Corps, shared the news during a press conference Tuesday.

“The forecasted 2020 upper basin runoff is ... 36.3 million acre feet, which if realized would be the ninth highest runoff in 122 years of record keeping,” Remus said.

St. Joseph had approximately 82.6 million acre-feet of water passing through the Missouri River in 2019, according to provisional numbers provided by the U.S. Geological Survey Central Midwest Water Science Center.

To put that amount into perspective, that’s nearly enough to fill the state of Missouri with 2 feet of water.

The Corps plans to release 30,000 cubic feet of water per second from Gavins Point Dam in January and February. Remus said in March they plan to step up releases.

“Last week, ice conditions in North Dakota required a small temporary reduction in Garrison Dam releases,” Remus said. “This is an example of how ice limits the ability to evacuate water in the winter.”

Besides the devastation flooding has caused to property along the Missouri River in 2019, there also have been negative economic impacts to communities in Northwest Missouri.

Flooding caused the closure of Interstate 29 for a good portion of the year, which hurt towns like Rock Port, Missouri.

Besides the obvious impacts to tourism, the closure added commute times to residents who work outside the city. For some, a normal drive time of 10 minutes to work turned into a two and a half hour detour navigating different bridges to Nebraska.

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