Mississippi River levels continue to drop

Mississippi River level continues to drop.
Published: Jun. 28, 2023 at 4:11 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 28, 2023 at 6:19 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - One important number is heading down right now in all of the heat - levels on the Mississippi River are significantly lower than normal for this time of year.

The Mississippi River currently sits at 9.3 feet in Cape Girardeau. That’s more than 10 feet lower than it was this time last year. One expert said if it keeps dropping, we could be in trouble.

“It’s not uncommon this time of year that we’d be coming out of flood,” Justin Gibbs, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said.

Instead, he’s watching river levels continue to drop. He said the lack of rain we saw in May could have a long-term impact.

“We are concerned about a building drought,” Gibbs continued. “We’ll get some temporary relief, but the type of storm systems that really recharge us, we just don’t really see those in July and August.”

According to Gibbs, these conditions are already impacting ports downstream.

“Around Memphis and in Mississippi, Arkansas, they’re dredging the channel to try to clear out enough space for the barges to pass through,” he said.

If the water stays low, Gibbs said river traffic may continue to suffer.

“If it keeps being this dry, I won’t be surprised if by this fall, we’re looking at river levels that are low enough that we have navigation issue again,” he said.

Gibbs said if the river drops below 5 feet that’s when the real traffic issues will happen here.

A look at the low Mississippi River level at Tower Rock on Wednesday afternoon, June 28.