Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Storms, Release Improve Mississippi River Outlook

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Storms, Release Improve Mississippi River Outlook

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS A release of water from the Missouri River and recent snow and rain are offering some relief for the Mississippi River.

Though still dangerously low, the Mississippi River channel at St. Louis was roughly 12 feet deep on Thursday up about a foot-and- a-half since Monday.

River interests are paying close attention because if the channel gets to 9 feet, further restrictions are expected for barge traffic. Experts say the potential impact on shipments of essentials such as corn, grain, coal and petroleum could reach into the billions of dollars.

Forecasters had initially expected the river to get to the 9- foot level late this month. But National Weather Service hydrologist Mark Fuchs said the new forecast shows that wont likely happen until the second week of January.

The seasons first major snowstorm dumped nearly a foot of snow in parts of Iowa and nearly 9 inches in parts of Nebraska. Some of that precipitation will eventually flow into the Missouri River. Heavy snow was falling or expected in states along the upper Mississippi River, too, and parts of Missouri got a half-inch of precipitation through rain and snow.

It helps, definitely, Fuchs said. Were getting a good bit of runoff from this last event and its going to be a while before the (Mississippi) river goes back down, well into the new year.

The storm was not likely to provide as much benefit to farmers and ranchers stung by the drought that still stretches across three- fifths of the continental U.S. It takes a foot or more of snow to equal an inch of water, so several storms of that magnitude would be needed to make a difference, said Brian Fuchs, a climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center.

The U.S. Drought Monitor said about 62 percent of the continental U.S. remained in some form of drought as of Tuesday, a portion largely unchanged since July. …

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