Low water records for Mississippi River - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Low water records for Mississippi River


It's only happened once before in recorded history, and it's happening again. 


After record-river levels in 1973, that following summer, the Mississippi River dropped to near record lows. Now, after last year's floods, the hot and dry weather in the Ohio River Valley has those wondering how low the river will go here.


"Last year we had the highest recorded water in history," said Z. Dave Deloach of Deloach Marine.

Deloach has worked the Mississippi River for forty years. 

"The only time I've seen it this low before is in 1988 when we had to actually shut down the river system because there were places where you couldn't get barges through."


Deloach says, then as today, river levels in Baton Rouge weren't the problem. 

"Right now, the river from Baton Rouge south is in really good shape. It's only above Baton Rouge where we're having some problems."


One major reason for the current low levels is a big decrease in rainfall in the middle of the country.

He says the tugboats headed up and down the river have already reduced the size of their tows by nearly 30 percent, and they've reduced the capacity the barges carry so they don't ride as deep in the water.


"When you add all that together, we're probably running at about 40 to 50 percent reduction in capacity," said Deloach.


While that's taking a bite out of his bottom line, he says you probably won't see it on store shelves any time soon. He says it's just another twist Mother Nature throws at folks who depend on the river for a living; something they've ridden out before and will ride out again.

"I've never seen the river dry up completely.  It always ends up raining eventually, and fills it back up," said Deloach.


Deloach says we need four or five days of good rain in the Ohio River Valley to make a noticeable change.

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