ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – More than 60 percent of the continental United States has been gripped by some form of drought and, according to an expert, the dry weather pattern is not changing.

That is not good news for water levels on the Mississippi River which already threaten to slow down, if not shut down, barge traffic between St. Louis and Cairo, Illinois.

“It’s going to take several events to get us out of the very negative stages,” National Weather Service hydrologist Mark Fuchs said. And that will take several storms with substantial rain or snow.

“People who have watched this river much longer than I have have told me they’ve never seen it this low for this long which means the likelihood of us seeing record low stages is pretty high,” Fuchs said.

For the farmers, barge workers, and thousands of others reliant on the nation’s largest waterway for employment, the two-week forecast is a frustrating one as precipitation is expected on several sides of St. Louis but not within it.

“Areas of heavier precipitation is much more enhanced over the West Coast, a little bit now over the northern plains, there is a better chance of precipitation there, and pretty much from St. Louis east there is a better chance of above-average rainfall,” Fuchs explained. “But not necessarily for the local area.”


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