MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - After months of falling river levels along the Mississippi, river experts say the tide is changing for the positive. Mid-South harbors still contain low water and require dredging, but river levels in the Mid-South provide good navigable channels.
Steve Barry, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Memphis District, says, “We have, what most people would call, a high river now, compared to what it's been. The barge industry would've been happy to have 10 or 11 feet in the past and now we've got almost twice that.”
Beyond the northern section of the Memphis District in Cairo, Illinois, problems are worse than ever. Along the Mississippi River near St. Louis low river levels are forcing even tighter restrictions against barge traffic. Many barges have a limit on how much weight they can transport at a time due to low water.
“Once you get south of Cairo, you're pretty good,” says Barry. “For all of the farmers, these are great water levels for them to transport their crops.”
Short-term river forecasts indicate the river could drop slightly over the next couple of weeks, but this does not take into account any weather systems that may bring rain to the area. Barry predicts river levels will instead remain fairly constant with rounds of rain headed for the Mid-South.
Long-range river forecasts have not yet been released from the Weather Service to predict how high the river will climb this spring.