An updated Mississippi River forecast is predicting that low-water levels will likely linger throughout the winter. The forecast exacerbates concerns that shipping may be impacted along a key stretch near St. Louis.
The latest outlook by National Weather Service Hydrologist Mark Fuchs shows that without significant rain, the river at St. Louis will likely fall to dangerously low levels by the end of December
A new report shows that the nation's worst drought in decades is getting worse again, ending an encouraging five-week run of improving conditions.
The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report shows that 60.1 percent of the continental U.S. was in some form of drought as of Tuesday. That's up from 58.8 percent the previous week. The portion of the lower 48 states in extreme or exceptional drought - the two worst classifications - also rose, to 19.04 percent from last week's 18.3 percent.
Businesses that work and ship on the Mississippi River are seeking a presidential declaration keep water flowing out of reservoirs on the Missouri River.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers closes dams in South Dakota at this time every year to store water to maintain levels later in the spring and summer.
The Missouri River accounts for roughly 60 percent of the water flowing by St. Louis. In a drought-year like this year, George Foster of St. Louis’ J.B. Marine says reducing river levels would risk closing the shipping channel.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and the barge industry are imploring the federal government to keep water flowing on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers or face potential "economic disaster."
The drought has left many waterways at historic lows. Nixon sent a letter Friday urging the Army Corps of Engineers to rethink plans to reduce the amount of water released from the Missouri's upstream reservoir. That would also reduce flow on the Mississippi below St. Louis.
This summer’s devastating drought and heat wave actually benefited some of Missouri’s native birds, in particular the bobwhite quail.
Bobwhite quail build their nests on the ground, and the hot and dry weather from both this summer and last provided better conditions for incubation. Max Alleger is a wildlife ecologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). He says the bobwhite quail population took a big hit in 2008 due to record-setting rainfall, as it was hard for them to keep their eggs warm on wet ground.
Missouri’s overall drought picture remains dry, although there is some slight improvement in portions of the Show-Me State.
The latest map shows the drought still covering the entire state, and most of it in the severe category – although three pockets of land where drought conditions are only moderate have grown slightly larger over the past two weeks. Those pockets are located in northeast, east-central and southwest Missouri. Mark Svoboda is a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
After one of the driest summers on record, recent rains have helped in some parts of the country. But overall, the drought has still intensified. The latest tracking classifies more than a fifth of the contiguous United States in "extreme or exceptional" drought, the worst ratings.
In some parts of the Lower Midwest, water-starved crops have collapsed, but the farmers have not. Farmers across the country are surviving, and many are even thriving. This year, despite the dismal season, farmers stand to make exceptionally good money, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Updated 1:45 p.m.Lock 27 reopened this morning at 3:30 a.m. after being closed for 5 days. According to the Army Corps of Engineers, it may take up to 72 hours to push through the 63 vessels and 455 barges, some from as far as New Orleans, that backed up during the closure. The Corps estimated that the closure cost nearly $3 million per day . Lock 27 underwent major rehab in the past few years and was damaged due to low water levels.