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At full flow, mighty Missouri puts on show

(Via Flickr/USACEPublicAffairs/By Carlos J. Lazo)
Brig. Gen. John McMahon (right), commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Northwestern Division, and Eric Stasch, the operations project manager at Oahe Dam, view one of the release tunnels at the Oahe Dam Stilling Basin near Pierre, S.D., June 8.

Updated at 2:41 p.m. with state of Missouri's preparedness.

The fast-moving Missouri River is making for spectacular displays at the dams that control its flow (see video below).

Hundreds of sightseers are turning out at Oahe Dam near Pierre, Garrison Dam near Bismarck, N.D., and other locations to see the thundering torrents as the Army Corps of Engineers releases water downstream. All the water must be moved along to make room for heavy rains in western states and snowmelt from the Rocky Mountains.

Jean Ries traveled three hours this week to Pierre from Sioux Falls to view the display at Oahe. Ries called it "unbelievable."

The Missouri is flowing through the power plant and emergency outlet tubes at a record 150,000 cubic feet per second. That's about 1  1/2 times the rate at Niagara Falls on a routine summer day.

And how prepared is Missouri?

Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon says the state of Missouri is well prepared for the surge of water that's heading down the Missouri.

Currently, the Missouri National Guard is working with local communities on flood preparation.

In the past, Governor Nixon has criticized releases from the dams, especially those that are scheduled every spring to help with the breeding of an endangered fish.

But the water is coming, he said today, and his role as executive in chief is to get ready for it.

"Our focus is on making sure that we are keeping life and property safe, making sure communities are prepared, and being a strong lifeline to help them rebuild afterward," Nixon said.

A Corps spokesman says the agency delayed the release for as long as possible help ease flooding earlier this month along the Mississippi River downstream.

Check out this U.S. Army Corps of Engineers video of water releases from Oahe Stilling Basin on June 5:


(Via OmahaUSACE on YouTube)

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