The army Corps of Engineers says 2015 was about as close to normal a year in the Missouri River basin – at least in terms of runoff.
But how that runoff happened was anything but normal.
"It was very dry in the early months of the year," said the Corps' Jody Farhat. "We had low plains and mountain snowpack. But then we had good rains that built up the storage in the reservoirs, and it ended up to be an average year, with good service to all authorized purposes."
Farhat says that could change in 2016. She says the prediction of an “el nino” type winter could mean "below normal mountain snowpack, and below normal plains snowpack, combined with warmer than normal temperatures."
Even so, Farhat says the reservoir system should still have enough water in it to serve the authorized purposes.
"The reservoir system is designed to serve the authorized purposes through a 12 year drought," said Farhat. "So if next year happens to be dry, that'll be a first dry year, and we'll have good service to all the uses along the river."
The Corps is hold a series of meetings throughout the Missouri River basin to talk about its 2016 operating plan.