An independent panel says the U.S Army Corps of Engineers did what it could to prevent this year’s record flooding along the Missouri River. But as St. Louis Public Radio’s VERONIQUE LACAPRA reports, changes will be needed to manage increasingly frequent extreme weather events.
Hydrologist Bill Lawrence of the National Weather Service participated in the panel review. Lawrence says Montana’s record-breaking rainfall in May contributed to unprecedented runoff downstream. But he says severe wet spells – and droughts – are becoming more frequent. “Whether or not you believe in climate change is besides the point. But we have the facts to prove that at least in the Missouri Basin the rainfall variability is becoming more extreme,” says Lawrence. He says the Master Manual which guides water management on the Missouri River needs to be revised to allow the Corps to better respond to changing weather patterns.