Sakakawea rise to continue

Lake Sakakawea will continue to rise through the month of July. That’s the latest information on Upper Missouri reservoir levels provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The water level of Lake Sakakawea Tuesday was 1,846.02 feet. The 2014 peak is expected to be 1,847.3 feet at the end of July. The reservoir topped out at 1,836.1 feet in the summer of 2013.

The Corps’ Omaha District held its final informational conference call Tuesday, detailing expectations for runoff and releases throughout the Missouri River Basin for the remainder of 2014. Currently the only problem area on the system is minor flooding that is occurring downstream of Kansas City. Much of that reach of the Missouri fell below flood stage July 2, but lingering problems remain in some areas due to excessive rainfall.

According to the Corps, all but one of 48 snowdepth reporting stations on the Missouri River drainage above Fort Peck were free of snow earlier this week. Total snowfall runoff into the system is now projected to be 33 million acre feet, an increase of .9 maf from a month earlier. The result, says the Corps, is higher water levels this summer for Lake Sakakawea and Lake Oahe.

While Lake Sakakawea’s high water reaches into the flood control storage zone, a significant amount of storage remains and reservoir releases will be increased throughout the summer. Average releases through Garrison Dam are projected to be 28,000 to 29,000 cubic feet per second. Lake Oahe will be releasing an average of 33,000 cfs. Conversely, upstream, Montana’s Fort Peck reservoir is projected to maintain releases of only 7,000 cfs this summer.

In their latest outlook for 2014 water levels for Missouri River reservoirs the Corps say it has included the latest long-range weather forecasts provided by the Climate Prediction Center. Those outlooks, July through August, call for above normal precipitation and well below normal temperatures throughout the basin, including North Dakota.

Doug Luck, National Weather Service, says the signs pointing to El Nino to come to fruition this fall have weakened recently. However, said Luck, there remains an 80 percent chance of El Nino forming prior to winter. The presence of El Nino over the Pacific Ocean generally means warmer winter temperatures over the northern United States.