Is the Mississippi River in a drought right now?
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According to statistics, the water level of the Mississippi River is at its lowest level in nearly a decade. That's bad news because North America's second-longest river is the primary source of drinking water for more than 20 million people.
Many parts of the United States are experiencing a drought right now, with several areas experiencing D4 severity—that is, unusually dry . In addition to increased fire hazards, vegetation damage and low flow, this type increases restrictions on starting a fire and cutting off irrigation water distribution.
How much of the U.S. is currently in drought?
About 68 percent of the U.S. territory is experiencing unusually dry conditions (D0 class) or worse. More specifically, approximately 50 percent of surfaces were moderately dry or worse, 28 percent were severely dry or worse, 12 percent were extremely dry or worse, and 2.4 percent were extremely dry.
Worst of all, 32% of the U.S. could see persistent drought and only 7.5% could expect improvement! In contrast, drought could develop further and become more dangerous in about 9 percent of the region.
What does drought mainly affect?
Before talking specifically about the Mississippi River, it's important to understand that droughts affect many sectors of advanced economies — such as the United States. Agriculture and wildfire management aren't the only things affected when land dries out and water levels drop.
- Agriculture – approximately 375 million acres of crops and 34 million beef cattle in the U.S. are experiencing various droughts;
- Ecosystems – Approximately 130 million acres of forest and 289 million acres of grassland are currently experiencing severe drought or worse. There are 25 more ongoing fires across the U.S.;
- Disaster Planning and Preparedness – Approximately 452,000 people in the United States currently live within 10 miles of ongoing fires;
- Manufacturing – approximately 411,514 acres of flax and 16.6 million acres of cotton are currently experiencing drought;
- Recreation and Tourism – Approximately 36 national parks, 360 ski resorts and 1,970 reservoirs are currently experiencing moderate or worse drought. Meanwhile, 12% of all traffic in the US was 10% below the usual average;
- Wildfire Management – There are currently 25 large wildfires active, currently affecting more than 19,000 acres.
Please keep in mind that the information shown above is subject to constant change. The values provided are as of this writing.
As you can see, the entire country can be affected by drought. Even if you live in a safe area , your usual travel may not be possible — or, worst-case scenario, common products may no longer be readily available (or their prices may increase) during the drought.
Is the Mississippi River in a drought right now?
Yes, the Mississippi River is currently experiencing a drought and slowly drying up. Portions of the river have seen record low water levels, worrying the 20 million people who receive drinking water from the Mississippi.
Overall drought conditions across the United States are negatively impacting the Mississippi River. In some areas, river levels are at their lowest levels in 30 years. Meanwhile, photographers now have the opportunity to capture close-ups of parts of the river's dry bed — and now the land where the river once flowed is now literally cracking open.
About 80 percent of the country is currently abnormally dry, with some areas being abnormally dry host basins that flow into the Mississippi River. The basin into which the river flows must also be considered. These also dry out, leading to the historic drought we are witnessing now.
What is the state of the country through which the great river flows?
The Mississippi River flows through ten states — let's see how dry they are.
- Minnesota – 48 percent of the state is experiencing moderate drought, about 16 percent severe drought and 5 percent extreme drought;
- Wisconsin – 11.61% of the state is experiencing moderate drought, while approximately 2% is in severe drought;
- Iowa – 73% of the state is experiencing moderate drought, about 30% is severe drought, 12% is extremely dry, and 0.57% is exceptionally dry;
- Illinois – 36 percent of the state is experiencing moderate drought, about 7 percent severe drought and 1.2 percent extreme drought;
- Missouri – 51 percent of the state is experiencing moderate drought, about 17 percent severe drought and 3 percent extreme drought;
- Kentucky – 88% of the state is experiencing moderate drought, while approximately 44% is in severe drought;
- Tennessee – 86% of the state is experiencing moderate drought, while about 5% is in severe drought;
- Arkansas – 88% of the state is experiencing moderate drought, while about 40% are in severe drought;
- Mississippi – 30 percent of the state is experiencing moderate drought, while about 3 percent is in severe drought;
- Louisiana – 67.82% of the state is experiencing moderate drought, while approximately 6.70% is in severe drought.
The ten states that the Mississippi River flows through are stable compared to some other states in the United States. For example, 35% of Kansas was exceptionally dry, with several counties experiencing 100% D4 drought.
However, the fact that the river is experiencing a historic drought must be addressed. While lack of rain has caused water levels to drop in the past, this is the worst the river has experienced in the past few years, according to Tennessee climatologist Andrew Joyner.
What are the main causes of drought in the United States?
The primary cause of the U.S. drought is believed to be global warming, essentially the effects of climate change that are now more evident than ever. For example, the drought in California, where 41% of its surface is extremely dry, is attributed to higher temperatures due to climate change.
California is currently experiencing its driest 22-year period in the past 1,200 years.
- The 3 most devastating consequences of the Mississippi drought
- Drought in the US: Which states are most at risk?
- These are the 10 driest states in America, and drought is coming!
- From Lake Mead to the Mississippi River: 5 of the worst droughts in the U.S. right now
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- Drought.gov, available here: https://www.drought.gov/
- Voice of America, available here: https://www.voanews.com/a/historic-drought-causing-mississippi-river-to-dry-up/6829421.html
- US Drought Monitor, available here: https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/CurrentMap/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?CA