In a river town like La Crosse, flooding is normally the biggest river problem to worry about. But on the lower Mississippi River, extremely low water levels are being reported this fall.
The National Weather Service (NWS) – La Crosse said the river’s level could dip below 2 feet in November, near the west Mississippi town of Vicksburg.
In La Crosse, the river stage is around 5 feet — roughly a foot below average, according to NWS – La Crosse forecaster Jeff Boyne.
“We’re in a reduced flow, definitely up in here because of the drought, but we’re not as bad as it is further south, in the areas that are not controlled by the lock and dams,” Boyne said, adding that in the past decade, the lowest river level we’ve had at La Crosse in October has been right about 4 feet.
The locks and dams help keep the level steady on the upper Mississippi, but the drought to the south could reduce barge traffic. “So that can impact, like farming, trying to get concrete up here,” Boyne said. “It may impact crops, trying to get out of the region, a little bit more money to ship it.”
The last paddlewheeler visit of the season in La Crosse was scheduled Tuesday from the American Queen. Low river levels may have led other cruise ships to cancel late season trips on the Mississippi.
Boyne said New Orleans is worried about its water supply, because salt water from the Gulf of Mexico is starting to flow into the Mississippi delta because the river is so low.