NEW BLOOMFIELD — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday declared a flood emergency in the Kansas City area even as it prepared to release more water into the Missouri River from a major upstream dam.
According to the National Weather Service, the Missouri River at Kansas City is expected to approach the "action level" of 29 feet late Friday, and is expected to crest at 30.4 feet sometime next Wednesday. The "minor flooding" level in Kansas City is 32 feet.
The corps increased the rate of water release at Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota from 17,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 22,000 cfs at noon Wednesday. A second increase to 27,000 cfs was completed later in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, the Corps of Engineers plans to release more water into the river from Gavins Point. Gavins Point Dam releases were increased from 27,000 cfs to 32,000 cfs at midnight Wednesday. A second increase from 32,000 cfs to 37,000 cfs was made earlier this morning.
Now the corps has announced that it will release 10,000 more cubic feet of water per second into the river beginning Thursday. Additional increases are likely to be made Friday, depending on the inflow.
The upstream reservoir system is currently holding back 56 million acre-feet (MAF) of water. The normal release rate for this time of year at Gavins Point is 12,000 to 17,000 Cubic Feet per Second (CFS). The corps issued this statement with the announcement of further releases: "Water releases from Gavins Point Dam near Yanton, S.D., have been increased to 50,000 cubic feet per second and will be increased to 60,000 cfs later today and Friday. Efforts are being made to minimize downstream impacts. The Corps is aware of flooding happening or forecast along the Missouri River and is working with local emergency managers to prepare for or respond to the impacts."
Heavy rains and a larger-than-normal amount of snow melt in the drainage area Gavins Point holds back has necessitated the increase in releases, according to the corps. Last year's runoff of 41.9 million acre-feet (MAF) above the dam was the third highest on record. The upstream reservoir system is currently holding back 56 MAF of water.
In Jefferson City, the river is expected to reach the action level of 21 feet Thursday evening and is predicted to crest just below the moderate flooding level of 25 feet sometime early Sunday.