Drought conditions persist along Missouri River basin

The Cox family from Wardsville visited Deborah Cooper Park at Adrian's Island Thursday to see the new park's features. Kaleb, left, and his siter, Chloe, second from right, joined their parents Terry and Carol, for a brief tour of the park and to stop and look out over the Missouri River, where they noticed a sand bar visible in the distance. The water level has dropped in recent weeks as drought conditions persist along the Missouri River Basin.

Despite improved runoff in June, water conservation measures will continue for the second half of the navigation season along the Missouri River.

That was the message from officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during a media briefing this week.

"Heavy rain in mid-June on the upper Yellowstone River, coincided with mountain snowmelt increasing inflows into Garrison Dam Reservoir in North Dakota," said John Remus, chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Missouri River Basin Water Management Division. "While soil moisture has improved in some areas over the last month, drought conditions persist across much of the Missouri River basin and reservoir levels remain below normal."

Due to the ongoing drought and the amount of water stored in the reservoir system, water conservation measures will likely continue through the remainder of 2022 and into 2023. The winter release rate from Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota, the southern most Corps dam on the Missouri, will likely be at a minimum rate of 12,000 cubic feet per second.

Mountain snowpack in the upper Missouri River Basin has melted. Mountain snowpack normally peaks near April 17, but this year it peaked May 3.

"Now that the snow has melted, we expect to see system storage decline as we make releases during the drier summer and fall periods to meet our authorized purposes," said Remus.

On a related note, the U.S. Drought Monitor, which shows the location and intensity of drought across the country, is showing abnormally dry and moderate drought areas expanding in Missouri, with a small area of south central Missouri considered in severe drought condition.

The map, which was updated Thursday morning, showed most of the southern half of the state, and up to the St. Louis area, with abnormally dry conditions. There's a section of counties along the southern border with Arkansas, from Stone County to Mississippi County, considered to be in moderate drought. Portions of five counties, Howell, Oregon, Carter, Shannon and Ripley, also on the Arkansas border, are considered to be in severe drought. The Kansas City area and the northern part of the state, up to the Iowa border, do not have drought conditions.

Abnormally dry is used to classify as an area that may be going into or out of a drought. Moderate drought is used for areas where some damage to crops has been reported and streams, reservoirs or wells are at low levels. Severe drought areas are where crop and pasture loss has been reported and water shortages are common.

Here in Central Missouri, most of the area is considered abnormally dry. This includes the northern portion of Cole County, eastern Osage County, southern Miller County and all of Callaway County. Northern Moniteau County is also listed as abnormally dry. However, the extreme northern portion of Moniteau, around Jamestown and across the Missouri River toward Ashland in Boone County, is considered to have moderate drought conditions. Morgan County does not have drought conditions.

With the release of this information and this week's extreme heat conditions, the Missouri fire marshal is asking residents to be cautious when considering any outdoor burning.