A hidden problem…

Most people don’t even think about the Mississippi River, other than when it floods…

BUT, the Mississippi carries somewhere around 60% of the grain, corn, and soybeans down to New Orleans for shipment overseas.

The Mississippi River, which carries 60 percent of the country’s grain exports, has reached historically low water levels. This week, the Mississippi reached minus-10.75 feet in Memphis, Tennessee, a level never before seen.

One article, HERE from Grist.

And another from the WAPO, HERE.

And from Popular Science, HERE.

The last time the Mississippi got anywhere near this low, was back in the 1980s, and the losses then were huge because of the crops lost to spoilage. And that was due to La Nina too! And we’re in the second year of La Nina, with a possible third year next year.

There are some ‘other’ issues that aren’t necessarily being covered- Like the fact that normally the Mississippi is two-way traffic (north and south bound). Now, it’s one way in most places, with barges stacked up at both ends.

Something like 300 barges are ‘stuck’ up north, and they have been downloaded to only draw 9 feet rather than the normal 11-12 feet, as the Corps of Engineers is only required to maintain a 9 foot deep channel.

There are also issues than ‘may’ require the barges to be partially off-loaded (maybe down to a half load), just to make passage.

To add insult to injury, the crops are piling up in silos all over the place, as the barges aren’t coming to get filled up, even as the harvest is continuing. This is causing a larger problem because as the silos fill, there is no place to ‘store’ the product, other than dumping it on the ground and covering it with tarps, then hoping they can recover some of that crop when the barges DO become available…

The problem is, that may not be until January or later, depending on the amount of rain that falls, or doesn’t fall…

Couple this with the Ukraine war, and there is a real danger of starvation in some of the third world countries that depend on grain, etc. to survive. This isn’t going to be pretty for the farmers, transporters, and most especially, the end users that depend on that grain.

I just hope and pray we get the rain that will bring the river back in time to save the crops and the people!


A hidden problem… — 19 Comments

  1. I had no idea of the state of the river. I knew we had a drought but had not considered of how this effects our waterways as well.

    • Yep. A cooling climate causes drought. A warming climate would cause more rain.

  2. When His children refuse to listen and obey, God uses famine to get their attention. Famines most often result from drought. People today like to think they are smarter than those of previous generations and don’t need to play by God’s rules. So now we have a lot of drought affecting harvests all over the country. But we also record harvest in some areas–record harvests of beans. And yet, due to drought, the Mississippi is barely flowing and those beans can’t get transported. A lot of them will spoil.

    But because people aren’t hungry yet, they won’t repent and turn to God. The drought and famine will get worse.

  3. Throw in the possibility of a rail-strike and the fact that oil that COULD have been carried by pipeline must be carried by rail because the pipeline did not get completed. The oil tonnage pulled by rail displaces grain that could be pulled, even when there are rail cars.

    More money for Warren Buffet. More pain for Americans.

  4. The rain will come when ALL those that claim to be Christians repent of their sins and return to the Lord Jesus Christ, then God will heal their land and restore it to His way.

  5. The weather isn’t always the cause. Impoundments of the tributaries and diversion of water proves you can’t keep taking more out than flows in.

    This is more apparent on the Colorado where the thirty year average precipitation at the headwaters hasn’t changed much. Drawing down Lake Powell to keep help Lake Mead isn’t a long term solution when Las Vegas and others keep using more and more water.

  6. The demand (now required by federal statute to save the minnows) for “seasonal flow” probably didn’t help. The Bureau of Reclamation and Army Corps of Engineers have to let more water out in the spring to make a seasonal flood for some endangered fish, thus reducing what is stored for dry months. Love ’em or hate ’em, the BoR and ACoE had been holding back water for situations like this. Would it prevent the current problem? Probably not, but it would possible make it less-bad.

  7. Here in South Central Alaska we had a very wet late summer and fall with my friends who make hay having trouble getting three days to dry it. Blogger I read in northern Minnesota had the same problem. I understand the Colorado River problems being mostly usage with a series of dams along it and the major feeders all with take out for whatever. I knew the Mississippi had flood control in the lower regions but I didn’t think dams would be involved. Are there navigation locks and impoundments. Could use some data.

  8. TXRed- Good point!

    Hammer- There aren’t any dams on the Mississippi, nor any locks. The links had some data in them.

  9. Lock and dam 15 on the Mississippi is at Rock Island, IL. [Ahem] years ago I took the footbridge just north of it to view the museum and shrine to St. John Browning. The small arms …

    Uh, yes …

    The dams are lower and wide, but they control water and feed the pools above the locks. If there’s less water coming from upstream, the pools get low and the locks used less often.

  10. Man, the good news keeps piling up.

    Smart people are loading mags, cleaning weapons and throwing last years furniture on the fire.

  11. Yep. Gunna be lean times for those 3rd World places rhat never learned to grow their own food. All the donated money doesn’t fill empty bellies. North America has drought and the Ukraine has Russians. Lean times ahead.

  12. Jim….
    This *is* our third La Nina in a row in Australia
    We should be starting to windrow Canola crops in a couple of weeks. Even if it stopped raining right bloody now, we wouldn’t be able to get machinery onto the paddocks. Huge crops and we can’t do anything about them. Last simmer, wheat that should have harvested in December, was harvested in February and we couldn’t transport it out of the paddock for months after that.

    La Ninã here means easterly winds across a warm Pacific. Combine that with westerly winds across a warming Indian ocean, and massive uplift where they meet over northern Australia….. and life gets interesting.

    No…… dry rivers are NOT our problem. I wish I could send you our excess….. or work out how to make money from farming frogs.

    • But, but… just a few years ago the climate alarmists promised us that Australia was entering a period of never ending drought caused by cow flatulence!

  13. IIRC, the El Ninõ/La Ninã tends to break down around April and reform Sept-Oct, usually in a different pattern, but sometimes not…. As we have seen.