The Missouri River is likely to remain above flood stage in Eastern Jackson County for perhaps a month and a half, according to forecasts from the National Weather Service.

The river is coming down as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reduces releases from the Gavins Point dam near Yankton, S.D. Those releases were at a peak of 160,000 cubic feet per second for much of the summer but by Tuesday should be cut to 90,000 cfs – still higher than any releases in the dam’s 56-year history until 2011.

The Weather Service projects the river will fall below flood stage at various places in the coming weeks – at Sioux City, Iowa, this week or next, at Omaha in late September, at Rulo, Neb. (across from northwest Missouri) in early October and at St. Joseph, Mo., in the second or third week of October.

The forecast does not list Sibley but says Waverly can expect to see the river fall below flood stage – 20 feet – in the third or fourth week of October. (The river is much deeper at Kansas City and has been below flood stage there most of the summer, even as other areas such as St. Joseph were hit hard.)
Given the progression of falling water the Weather Service predicts, the river at Sibley would slip below flood stage sometime in mid-October. The river this morning was at about 26.5 feet, about foot lower than last Friday morning, but was projected to rise slightly today and then decline to about 26 feet by the of the week. That would still be four feet above flood stage.

If all that holds, the river at Sibley would have peaked this year at 31.1 feet on July 7, the fifth highest reading on record.

The Corps of Engineers plans to hold Gavins Point releases at 90,000 cfs for a couple of weeks while dam spillways and other infrastructure are inspected. Then the reductions resume in mid-September, headed toward about 40,000 cfs, far closer to a normal fall release. Corps officials are struggling to balance the need to bring down the river with the need to lower the upstream flood-control reservoirs before next spring’s usual round of rain and snow runoff.