Flooding starts; west stays dry

opinions

June 7, 2011 - 12:00 AM

A slow motion flood on the Missouri River is in progress. The river is already high. Six hundred residents in Hamburg, Iowa, were told Sunday to get out of their homes within 24 hours. And much more water is on the way. The U.S. Corps of Engineers is planning to release huge quantities from the Gavins Point Dam on Lewis and Clark Lake in South Dakota over the next two weeks because unusually heavy spring rains have the lake level dangerously high. Room will be needed to handle the snowmelt from the above-normal snowpack in the mountains.
As a result of the increased releases the Missouri River will be running five to seven feet above flood level as its flows through Iowa and Ne-braska and then enters Missouri. Flooding may continue for weeks. If this week’s heat continues and the mountain snowpack melts fast, historic river levels are forecast.
“This really is an historic event,” Jody Forhat, who leads the Corps’ Water Management Division in Omaha, told an AP reporter. The only time the river has been higher in the past six decades was in 1952.

MEANWHILE, IN western Kansas, three more counties — Ellis, Graham and Trego — are now eligible for emergency grazing because of lack of rain. With this addition, farmers in 30 counties can now graze grass on land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program.
Those 30 counties are super-dry. While extra heavy spring rains and winter snows threaten wide areas with floods, droughts in western Kansas and large parts of Texas and Oklahoma are causing misery of a different kind.
Climatologists tell us that the climate change the world is experiencing may make usually wet areas wetter; usually dry areas dryer. They also warn us that the changes are the result of man shooting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at horrific rates. Maybe they are right. Can we afford to wait and see?

 

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