High Water on the Great Plains

Returning to Colorado yesterday, I crossed the Missouri River west of Columbia.  Racing along, the river waters were lapping at trees on the banks while other trees and logs, swept from the floodplain farther upstream, tumbled in the powerful current.

Farther west, primary and secondary tributaries of the Missouri were swollen as well, reflecting weeks of excessive rain across the Great Plains; these included the Lamine River in west-central Missouri, the Kansas River (which I crossed at both Kansas City and Lawrence), the Smoky Hill River in Junction City and the Solomon and Saline Rivers in central Kansas.  In addition to the bank-full rivers and streams, I observed standing water in many fields and noted that farm ponds, nearly dry for the past few years, are now filled to the brim.

Here in Metro Denver, the South Platte is raging through its channel, the highest I have seen that river during my thirty-three years along the Front Range; the North Platte River (which merges with the South Platte in Nebraska) is running high as well and the combined Platte River is a major contributor to flooding along the Missouri.  The worse may yet to come for flood prone areas of the Missouri River watershed; the snowpack of the Rocky Mountain eastern slope continued to accumulate during the cold, wet spring and is just now beginning to melt.  Runoff from those snowfields will keep rivers high across the Northern Plains for many weeks to come.