Wilder Weather Means Tricky Times for Reservoir Operators
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Some reservoir operators in the Northwest say wilder swings in weather patterns in the last decade are making it trickier to fill reservoirs for irrigation and power generation while also avoiding the risk of flooding homes downstream.
Upper Columbia Senior Water Manager Joel Fenolio with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says they're struggling with recent weather patterns, but statistical data from past years is still reliable for making predictions.
On the eastern side of the Continental Divide, the agency's Missouri River Basin Water Management Division Chief Jody Farhat says nine of the basin's 10 highest runoff years have occurred since 1970.
That includes an unusual combination of weather events in 2011 that led to widespread flooding. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is working on a study trying to better understand runoff variability.