It has been hard not to fixate on the challenges Midwest farmers and ranchers faced this past spring. Arguably one of the biggest challenge was excessive rainfall, which fell throughout the spring, summer and fall.
Impacts varied upon location. Most had “wet spots,” while others watched floodwaters rupture levee systems before creeping into their fields and rural communities.
Unfortunately, the devastation is far from over.
Forecasts call for additional precipitation, enhancing current flood situations. Kevin Grode, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, says this year’s extremely wet conditions are on track to break additional records.
“The 2019 calendar year runoff forecast for the upper Missouri River basin, above Sioux City, Iowa, is 61 million-acre feet, which is nearly two-and-a-half times above average. If realized, the forecast for 2019 would equal the previous record runoff, which was established in 2011,” Grode said.
A dam, spanning the Missouri River and impounding Lewis and Clark Lake, has seen increased water releases. The Army Corps of Engineers increased water releases at Gavins Point Dam to 80,000 cubic feet per second, more than twice the average for this time of year. The above average releases are expected to continue through the remainder of the year.
Parts of the basin received more than twice the amount of normal precipitation in September. More unprecedented precipitation is expected, which has the Army Corps of Engineers forecasting runoff to be three times the long-term average during the month of October.
“Largely in part to the tributaries that are continuing to flow much above average due to September rains along with the soil moisture conditions being extremely wet. This all limits infiltration from any rain events,” Grode said.
Many fear such events will occur more often, further threatening farmland. Officials warn chances of flooding will increase in 2020, if runoff cannot be released from the river system this fall.