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.