No signs of relief in upper Missouri River Basin drought, Corps says

Billings Gazette

There are no signs of relief in the ongoing drought in the upper Missouri River Basin, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with this year’s spring runoff predicted to remain below normal.

The forecast comes on the heels of a year in which the basin saw only 59% of its average runoff, a total of 15.2 million acre-feet of water – the 10th lowest annual runoff in 123 years. An acre foot is the amount of water it takes to cover one acre in one foot of water.

“Based on current runoff trends, soil moisture, and plains and mountain snowpack, the dry conditions are expected to continue,” the Corps reported.

According to the website drought.gov, more than 86% of Montana remains in severe drought, with 53% in extreme drought, and almost 14% in exceptional drought, the worst possible rating. In 127 years of record keeping, 2021 was the fourth driest year for Montana.

The Corps’ runoff forecast is a bit rosier for 2022, calling for 21.7 MAF of runoff, which is 84% of average.

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