Upper Missouri runoff only 79% of average through May, Corps reports

Billings Gazette

Runoff continues to be below average in the upper Missouri River Basin. Below-normal precipitation, dry soil conditions in the western portions of the basin, and cooler-than-normal temperatures slowing mountain snowmelt, resulted in a May runoff of 2.7 million acre-feet. While this was 0.4 MAF more than forecast last month, this volume is still 79% of average, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported on Wednesday.

If the forecast holds steady for 2022 runoff, the amount would rank as the 25th lowest runoff since 1898.

The upper Missouri River Basin runs from above Sioux City, Iowa, to Montana. The Corps is responsible for dam management from Fort Peck Reservoir downstream.

“A wet April and May in North Dakota resulted in wetter soils in the state, but dry soils remain in the rest of the basin,” said John Remus, chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Missouri River Basin Water Management Division. “Drought conditions persist but have improved over the last month. Over 20% of the basin is drought-free, and only 8% of the basin is left in extreme drought conditions, mostly in the state of Montana.”

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