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The intake structure and embankment of the Garrison Dam sits on Lake Sakakawea, near Riverdale. Jessica Holdman / Bismarck Tribune

Missouri River basin snowpack below normal

MINOT, N.D. — Snowpack in the Missouri River drainage that eventually flows into Lake Sakakawea is currently running slightly less than average for this time of year.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say the snow water equivalent in the snowpack above Fort Peck Reservoir in Montana equaled 84 percent of the Feb. 1 long-term average. For the Fort Peck to Sakakawea reach, generally considered the plains snowpack, the Feb. 1 percentage of normal was 86 percent.

According to the Corps, normally the Feb. 1 snowpack in the Missouri River basin has reached 64 percent of its yearly total.

With several weeks of winter remaining and spring rains to follow, conditions could change considerably before the start of the spring runoff.

As of Feb. 1, the Corps expects Lake Sakakawea to peak this summer slightly over 1,842.2 feet. Last year, Lake Sakakawea saw a peak elevation of 1,852.8 feet. Spillway level is 1,854 feet. Lake Sakakawea stood at 1,838.72 feet Wednesday and is expected to reach its Feb. 28 target level of 1,837.5 feet, an elevation considered necessary to provide ample storage in preparation for spring runoff.

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