Storms improve outlook for Mississippi River
A release of water from the Missouri River and recent snow and rain are offering some relief for the Mississippi River.
Though still dangerously low, the Mississippi River channel at St. Louis was roughly 12 feet deep on Thursday _ up about a foot-and-a-half since Monday.
River interests are paying close attention because if the channel gets to 9 feet, further restrictions are expected for barge traffic. Experts say the potential impact on shipments of essentials such as corn, grain, coal and petroleum could reach into the billions of dollars.
Forecasters had initially expected the river to get to the 9-foot level late this month. But National Weather Service hydrologist Mark Fuchs said the new forecast shows that won't likely happen until the second week of January.
The season's first major snowstorm dumped nearly a foot of snow in parts of Iowa and nearly 9 inches in parts of Nebraska _ precipitation that will eventually flow into the Missouri River. Heavy snow was falling or expected in states along the upper Mississippi River, too, and parts of Missouri got a half-inch of precipitation through rain and/or snow.
"It helps, definitely," Fuchs said. "We're getting a good bit of runoff from this last event and it's going to be a while before the (Mississippi) river goes back down, well into the new year."<snip>
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