Missouri River forecast to rise significantly at Omaha

In March, the Paradise Lakes residential area was nearly covered in floodwaters from the Missouri River.

Heavy rains north of Omaha will cause the Missouri River to rise noticeably, again threatening Interstates 29 and 680, according to the National Weather Service.

The weather service is projecting about a 4-foot rise in the river at Omaha and Blair over the next few days. A 2-foot rise is possible at Plattsmouth.

Whether the Interstates are affected will depend upon how much additional rain falls overnight Wednesday, said Brian Barjenbruch, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Travelers should monitor conditions, he said.

The river is expected to remain high for a while as the runoff works its way south. Barjenbruch said forecasting river levels has been made difficult by the effects of broken levees.

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Between 1.5 inches and 3.5 inches fell Tuesday into Wednesday between Blair and Sioux City, Iowa, and farther north about 2 to 5 inches of rain fell, he said. The rain accompanied the storm system that unleashed three tornadoes on Sioux Falls, South Dakota, causing significant damage there.

None of the runoff will be captured by the flood-control dams on the Missouri, Barjenbruch said.

And while its dams can’t stop the runoff, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is taking steps to avoid adding to high river levels.

The corps said Wednesday that it is cutting back releases from its upper dams so there is less impounded water flowing downstream. Releases from Oahe, Big Bend and Fort Randall Dams are being cut back.

John Remus, who oversees management of the dams for the corps, said the reduction is being done to avoid having to increase releases from Gavins Point.

Releases from Gavins Point Dam will remain unchanged. Releases from Gavins Point, the farthest downstream dam, directly affect river levels in Nebraska and Iowa.

As the reservoir behind Gavins Point absorbs runoff, it is expected to rise into its “exclusive flood control zone,” considered the upper limit for its water level.