The Mighty Mississippi River Becomes a Little Less Mighty

Oct 27, 2022

A drought throughout the central US and Midwest has dropped the Mississippi River’s water levels to new historic lows. The low waters have backed up more than 2,000 barges. The ships are carrying important cargo. It's causing an issue for already tangled supply chains. 

In Memphis, the river fell to a record low of -10.81 feet. There's no end in sight to the drought conditions. Minimal rain is predicted for the next few weeks for huge areas of the central US.

The Mississippi is an essential transport system. Barges use it to carry crops and food supplies from farms throughout the US' heartland. Nearly all corn and soybean products, and half of America’s wheat, travel along the 2,340-mile waterway. Barges also carry crude oil and coal. 

“America is going to shut down if we shut down,” the CEO of Indiana-based American Commercial Barge Line told the Wall Street Journal.

The US Army Corps of Engineers has dredged parts of the Mississippi to try to keep vessels moving through. Delays, though, will still happen. Rivers flowing into the Mississippi have also been affected. Photos show the Platte River is nearly dried up in some places, CNN reported. That river flows from Louisiana into the Mississippi. 

The low water levels have led to some interesting discoveries. Cars, human remains, dry river beds, and even a shipwreck have been found. The shipwreck dates to 1915. A hurricane took it down as it sailed the Mississippi.

Photo from Reuters.

Which issue is highlighted throughout the article? (Common Core RI.5.3; RI.6.3)
a. Interesting discoveries that have resulted from the Mississippi River’s low water levels.
b. The impact of the drought on the Platte River.
c. The weather forecast for the next few weeks in the central US.
d. The Mississippi River’s impact on supply chain issues.
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