Mississippi River approaching record low levels quicker than last fall

A Midwest-based climatologist says regional drought has created a low flow scenario on the Missouri, Illinois and Ohio Rivers pushing lower Mississippi River levels to the record lows seen last fall.

Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford tells Brownfield the Mississippi River at Memphis is currently about 4 feet under “low stage”.

“We had record low stage on the Mississippi last fall and in late October it was somewhere around 5 1/2 feet below low flow. We’re looking at forecasts right now from the river forecast center and they’re showing us approaching those levels by late September, so about a month ahead of where we were last year.”

He says there is potential for a more active storm pattern in October, but it isn’t a problem that will be solved with just one rainstorm.

“Even if we’re blasting the Midwest with more and more rain, it takes a while to fill up that desiccated soil column before we really get a lot of runoff into a river.”

He says while dry weather has been beneficial for the start of harvest, rain is needed to keep barges moving on the river system.

Audio: Interview with Trent Ford

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