Drought could halt shipping along the Mississippi

January 7th, 2013 at 3:54 pm by under Weather

The drought that impacted our region this summer is still talking it’s toll across the country.  One of the big impacts is along the Mississippi River.  River levels are so low that billions of dollars worth of goods could not make it from the central United States to the Gulf of Mexico through it’s normal route along the river.  As drought conditions continue to worsen in the central United States, river levels continue to go down.  This could mean a complete stand still in shipping along the river.

This means that more than 8,000 jobs will be affected.  It will also cost nearly $54 million in wages and benefits.  Not to mention the 7.2 million tons of goods that won’t make it to their destination.  While forecasters predict low levels, the Army Corps of Engineers is optimistic that a new plan will help keep the shipping lanes open.

The new plan is to remove river-bottom rock at the shallowest locations.  Two of those are near the towns of Grand Tower and Thebes in Illinois.  Large rocks along the bottom of the shipping lanes are being moved in hopes of keeping the lanes open.

There is a point where this process will stop helping.  As of Wednesday the 2nd, the river gauge at Thebes read 4 feet.  The forecast is for the river level to go up to about 4.2 feet by the end of the week, then fall to 3.2 feet next week.  The Army Corps of Engineers says that shipping lanes can be kept open… that is until the gauge reads 2 feet.  At that point, no amount of rock moving will keep the shipping lanes open.


Focus of Army Corps of Engineers – Grand Tower and Thebes Illinois

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