Report from Louisiana: Low Water

Posted: October 24, 2022 by Pat Austin in Uncategorized
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Low water in the Atchafalaya Basin: all that green? That should be well under water.

By: Pat Austin

ARNAUDVILLE LA – We have been in south Louisiana this week, around the Atchafalaya Basin which is absolutely the lowest I’ve seen in years. There is dry land out there where I have never seen dry land before. It is much the topic of conversation around here; for some, the fishing is great because of this. Others lament cancelled cruises and others worry about the effects on their businesses.

It is a bit shocking to see dry, cracked land and cypress stumps that have previously been completely under water.IA large part of this is due to the ongoing drought throughout the entire country which has resulted in low water in the Mississippi River.

Everything is connected.

No rain throughout the country means water levels in the northern end of the river are the lowest since 1988. Down closer to the Gulf, it is reaching 2012 low water levels. This is all problematic because now barges struggle to get through the river. Fewer barges can go through and the barges must carry lighter loads. Barges that ignore the low-water restrictions find themselves grounded, stuck in mud. Supply chain disruptions are the result.

The USS Kidd, a WWII era destroyer and now museum and tourist attraction, sits on dry land in Baton Rouge due to the low water.

Low water in the Mississippi means low water in the Atchafalaya Basin. This affects the fishing and seafood industry, tourism industry, and much more.

There is precious little humans can do about all of this; what is needed is rain, of course. Jeff Graschel of the National Weather Service explains:

“There’s not any long-range models that are giving us any occasions for rainfall that’ll generate runoff to help and alleviate low-water conditions right now,” he said. “Obviously everybody’s watching that very closely.”

He explained that the rain would need to occur in the upper section of the river valley, such as Illinois, for the effects to be felt further south. Rain that falls in south Louisiana does not drain through the Mississippi, save for what lands directly in the river.

For now, all anyone can do is wait for rain.

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