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Missouri River Flooding Expected

Local officials have to "wait and see" the impact the release of water from reservoirs in North Dakota may have on the MIssouri River downstream.

Flooding is expected on the Missouri River at St. Charles in June--but exactly when and how much is still unclear.

Snow melt in the northern parts of the Missouri River basin has filled several reservoirs in Montanta and North Dakota to capacity, according to Mark Fuchs with the National Weather Service. A series of controlled releases of those reservoirs into the river have started and will continue until mid June.

There's about a 10-day travel time from the reservoir to St. Charles, said Mark Petersen, public affairs chief for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in St. Louis. Those reservoir releases, coupled with recent rainfall throughout the Missouri River basin, mean the possibility of more severe flooding in the second half of June and into July.

"We're hoping we don't get a lot more rain," Petersen said. "Levees have taken a beating already."

On Monday, the Missouri River had reached 26.1 feet at St. Charles, about one foot above flood stage. It was expected to crest at 26.4 feet on Tuesday, then recede to 25 feet, according to the National Weather Society.

When the Missouri River reaches 26 feet, Highway 94 starts flooding in between Matson and Augusta, MO.

The Mississippi River is also above flood stage and was expected to crest at 26 feet on Tuesday and then fall. If the Mississippi River is still low when the Missouri River floods, it may hold up the fall of the Missouri River after it has crested, which means the high water may stay around longer, said Petersen. 

Lt. Craig McGuire, spokesman for St. Charles County's emergency management division, said they have been in touch with managers of differnet levee districts as well as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"It's kind of wait and see," he said. "It's causing us a great deal of concern like everybody else."

This flood event is different in that the region has a lot of advanced warning.

"It's kind of like, 'Hey! Are you ready?'" said McGuire.

Maralee Britton, director of the St. Charles Parks and Recreation Department, said in an email that they are watching the river roller coaster to see what will happen. 

"At 31.5 feet, the (Missouri) river is coming into the park in various spots," she said. "We watch the predicted levels and weather forecasts to determine if it's necessary to close the park."

Britton said they continue to monitor the river for safety reasons since it's an attraction.

Petersen said the expected flood levels may end up lower than predicted if it doesn't rain a lot in June.

"It's a bit of a wait and see right now," he said. "We've got the relationships in place with local governments and emergency responders. We've handled flooding much worse than this."

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