Drought Worsens Across Midwest as Mississippi River Dwindles
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A drought is spreading across the Midwest, drying up the Mississippi River and its tributaries that serve as a critical freight artery for the country.
From Iowa to Ohio, nearly a third of the region is in drought, up from a quarter a week earlier, according to an Oct. 13 update from the U.S. Drought Monitor. Parched conditions have also jumped in states bordering the Mississippi, like Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana.
It all points to little relief for the transportation snafus seen in recent weeks. The dwindling water levels have led to barge groundings, forcing blockages and days-long delays on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, which are among the most important routes for heavy industry and agricultural shipments.
“Low water like this, and how fast it hit, will be the stuff of legends,” said Margo Brock, chief operating officer of shipping logistics firm Mercury Resources.
In addition to the low river flows, pasture land and ponds are drying out throughout the Midwest, according to the monitor. Soil moisture has dropped in many places with little rain falling since August, a bad sign for crops.
Weather forecasts aren’t encouraging. No rain was expected in the forecast through Oct. 20, the U.S. Weather Prediction Center said. Northern Minnesota, parts of Wisconsin, Michigan and most of Kentucky were likely to get less than an inch of rain.
— With assistance from Joe Deaux.
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