Snodgrass: although river levels are low, they need to return to normal slowly

Low Mississippi River levels continue to complicate barge movement, but a principal atmospheric scientist says the levels need to return to normal slowly.

Eric Snodgrass is also the senior science fellow with Nutrien Ag Solutions.

“The biggest news in the midsection of the country is the drought on the Mississippi basin. In the last 50+ days we’ve seen some places that didn’t get any rain until lately. As a result, soil moisture is very low and the water getting to the river is low, and in some places like around Memphis, we’re 15 feet below the low stage,” he says. “To revive that water takes a tremendous amount of rain and we actually don’t want it to come back up fast. To get it to come up fast means we’ll flood everything out. People won’t get harvest finished, we won’t get that fall application done, and that can be problematic.”

He tells Brownfield the river was at similar levels in the fall of 2015.

“The river was completely full by January 2016 and in order to do that, it had to be the wettest fall and early winter,” he says. “I think we need to be patient. It’s hard to be patient when you see what’s going on with barge traffic, but from an atmospheric science perspective, I don’t want flooding. I don’t want to go from drought to flooding. That would be the way to cure the problem quickly but no good for anything else.”

Brownfield interviewed Snodgrass at the 95th National FFA Convention and Expo.

Audio: Eric Snodgrass

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