Runoff remains below normal in Missouri basin

Runoff remains below normal in Missouri basin Runoff continues at below normal levels in the Missouri River basin, resulting in lower-than normal winter releases at all six Army Corps of Engineers reservoirs.

"November's runoff above Sioux City, IA, was 88 percent of normal. The upper portions of the basin continue to be particularly dry," said Larry Cieslik, chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management Division in Omaha. "We are forecasting this year's runoff at 22.2 million acre-feet (MAF)," he said. Normal is 25.2 MAF.

System storage ended November at 49.3 MAF, down 1.1 MAF during the month. "Even though we had a low runoff year, the drought water conservation measures of the current water control plan helped reduce the loss of water in the reservoirs. Last year at this time it was 49.9 MAF," said Cieslik.

"We will increase releases if severe cold weather creates ice build-ups on the river, just as we did last winter," said Cieslik. Increases could be necessary to prevent excessively low stages at municipal water supply and powerplant intakes along the river. Moderate temperatures could allow releases lower than 13,000 cfs, without causing water supply problems to downstream intakes. Gavins Point releases averaged 13,800 and 13,300 cfs last January and February, respectively.

As of Dec. 4, the mountain snowpack was 85 percent of normal in the reach above Fort Peck and 82 percent in the reach from Fort Peck to Garrison.

Lewis and Clark Lake will remain near elevation 1208 feet msl through the winter.

Fort Randall releases average 24,500 cfs in November. They will range from 10,000 cfs to 12,000 cfs during December, enough to maintain the desired elevation of Lewis and Clark Lake. Lake Francis Case ended November at elevation 1339.4 feet msl. It will refill in December, ending the month near elevation 1341 feet msl.

Lake Oahe ended the month at elevation 1599.4 feet. The lake will drop less than one foot in December, ending the month nearly three feet below normal. The lake is two feet higher than last year at this time.

Garrison releases averaged 10,600 cfs during November, about half the long term average. They were increased to 13,000 cfs on Nov. 26. Lake Sakakawea ended November at 1830.5 feet. It will drop about one foot in December, ending the month nearly 8 feet below normal. The lake is near the same elevation it was last year at this time.

Fort Peck releases were also about half the normal rate, averaging 4,100 cfs during November. They were increased to 5,000 cfs on Nov. 26. The lake ended November at elevation 2220.7 feet. It will fall less than one foot during December, ending the month 14 feet below normal. Last year at this time the lake was nearly eight feet higher.

The six main stem powerplants generated 565 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity in November, 69 percent of normal. The forecast for 2001 energy production is 6.1 billion kWh compared to a normal of 10.2 billion kWh.

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