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Major flooding possible along Missouri River this summer

(Via Flickr/USACEPublicAffairs/By Carlos J. Lazo)
Current water elevations on the Missouri River climb near a temporary emergency levee at Fort Pierre, S.D. on June 4.

Cities and towns along the Missouri River should begin preparing for major flooding in the next few weeks, according to federal officials.

The high water levels on the Missouri in the upper Great Plains are being blamed on a near-year’s worth of rainfall in a few week’s time -- and 140 percent more snowfall in the areas of the Rocky Mountains adjacent to the Missouri River basin.

Kevin Low of the Missouri Basin River Forecast Center says some portions of the Show-Me State could see flooding comparable to the great flood of 1993.

“Right now is the time to be prepared," Low told reporters during a conference call today.  "This is gonna be a long-term event, and I think folks need to be ready, beginning now, and remain ready through the summer.”

The heavy rains and melted snow have led to more water than usual being released from dams in the upper Great Plains, and more rain is predicted in the coming weeks.  Kevin Grode is with the US Army Corps of Engineers:

“At this point, we have yet to see the mountain snowpack come off, and June and July are historically very wet months (in) the Missouri River Basin," Grode said.  "At this point, we’re telling folks that the high releases will continue through mid-August.”

Officials also warn that the excess water could again threaten areas along the Mississippi River that were hit hard by flood waters earlier this year. 

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

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