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Missouri River basin runoff projected to reach 112 percent of average

MINOT, N.D. - The mountain and plains snowpack throughout the Missouri River drainage increased considerably during February, a month in which record or near-record snowfall occurred in many regions of the northern United States. Increased snowfall has led to an increased snowmelt runoff forecast for the Missouri River basin.

The latest projections of the U.S Army Corps of Engineers is that runoff for the entire Missouri River system is expected to reach 112 percent of average. However, cautioned the Corps during a conference call Thursday, the runoff outlook can change significantly in the coming months and there is growing concern about ice jams and spring rainfall that could further increase expected high water levels.

The March runoff forecast calls for 28.4 million acre feet of water to enter the Missouri River system this spring. That is a large increase from the February projection of 25.6 maf. The reason, says the Corps, is heavy snowfall over much of the basin during February.

Despite the increased runoff forecast the projected peak elevation of Lake Sakakawea this summer changed less than 2 feet from a month ago. Sakakawea is now expected to reach 1,843.9 feet in July. That compares to 1,842.2 feet in the outlook issued Feb. 1.

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