Mississippi River levels low again

A hydrologist with the National Weather Service says Mississippi River levels are low again after improving earlier this year and that could affect grain movement if significant rains do not come.

There is rain in the weekend forecast, but Mary Lamm, based in Paducah, Kentucky, says she is not expecting significant moisture from the system. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor says 89% of the Midwest is experiencing dryness in mid-June, with only a small percentage in extreme drought.

She tells Brownfield the drought is getting worse and is affecting water flow.

“The Ohio River has a little bump of water coming down it, but after that, we’ll continue to see levels drop in the Mississippi River.”

River levels at Cape Girardeau, Missouri and Cairo, Illinois were at 11 feet on Friday, June 16 and are expected to rise to 12 feet in the next few days with the extra water boost.  But Lamm says water levels in Cairo could drop back down to 10 feet around Independence Day.

Lamm says she is not relying on additional moisture from El Niño to fix the problem. For the next few weeks, she says to expect river levels similar to 2012 when there was record drought.  

“Until we get a change in the weather, there’s really not going to be water added into the river anywhere.”

Soy Transportation Coalition Executive Director Mike Steenhoek says there are no major delays to grain movement along the Mississippi River yet, but low water levels are something being closely monitored as the new marketing year gets closer.

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