MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - From the military to businesses, all eyes are on the mighty Mississippi.
It could pose problems to docking boats in the coming weeks as the river’s levels continue to fall.
If you want an example of the difference a year can make, look no further than the Mississippi River. Last May everyone was on edge as it rose to a near record level. What's concerning people now is how low it is.
“Well for example right out here you can see the stone dyke and the buoy marking the end of it, normally that would be under water,” said Jim Pogue from the Army Corps of Engineers.
He is one of many watching the river closely. In Memphis, it's more than two feet below its normal level. In the next two weeks it could nearly double.
“Well right now what we're looking at is as the river goes down there's less draft for the towboats pushing the barges. So there's more potential for groundings on the river, also what makes it hard for them to get in and out of harbors along the river."
That's unwelcome news for the American Queen Steamboat Company, which has the hallmark of its fleet heading to Memphis next week.
You can thank nature for drying up the Mississippi. Drought conditions in the Mid-West have taken its toll on the Mid-South. This time last year we saw roughly 31 inches of rain. This year there has been less than 15 inches. Even so, Pogue says all hope isn't lost.
“We have dredging contracts in place so if the river does drop enough and it becomes problematic, we can get in there, we can dredge and make sure that we keep the harbors open,” Pogue said.
With Memphis being one of the major harbors on the Mississippi River, it's crucial it stays open.