Omaha Public Radio News
3:28 pm
Fri June 17, 2011

Current flooding problems directly related to excessive rainfall in Montana

Omaha, NE – The primary cause of the Missouri River flooding can be traced back to an 8-inch rainfall event that occurred in May in eastern Montana.

That's according to Dave Pearson, Service Hydrologist for the National Weather Service's Omaha office. He says each year there is snow melt in the mountains, and every year the Corps of Engineers drains down their reservoirs to accept the snow melt runoff. It's then passed on through to help control floodwaters. Pearson says the rain in Montana happened in such a short period of time that the reservoir could only hold so much and flooding began to occur. He says things are not going to change anytime soon, "If anything, the river is going to come up some more from where we are right now. The concern now is any future rainfall that we get is going to push levels a bit higher. In some areas, we could see another two foot rise. It wouldn't be out of the question. So the river is going to stay high through the year. We are not expectng much of a decline in the coming weeks and months."

Pearson says because the river is so abnormally high right now and takes such a long time to recede because of its size, the river is not likely to stabilize until next year. He says for the time being, the Corps of Engineers will continue releases at upstream dams along the Missouri River. Pearson says if you live in or near an affected area, this is a good time to create an evacuation plan. For current flood information, the website is available at weather.gov/Omaha.