Mississippi River Shutdown: Record Drought Could Be Worse Than Hurricane Sandy
A Mississippi river shutdown could be coming because of the record drought in the area. Officials warned that dangerously low water levels in the Mississippi could halt shipping across more than 200 miles of the Mississippi river, and said that if the Mississippi river shutdown comes, it could be more costly than Hurricane Sandy.
The Mississippi river shutdown could come along a 200-mile-stretch between St. Louis and Cairo, Ill. With the water level in that span expected to drop to 9 feet in the coming weeks, shipping companies could not make the trip safely, forcing the Mississippi river to shut down.
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The Mississippi river shutdown is likely to come soon, barring any heavy rain or snow.
"I haven't seen great reason for optimism yet," Mark Fuchs, a National Weather Service hydrologist, told USA Today. "I would be surprised if we don't set low water records at St. Louis and other locations this winter season."
The Mississippi river shutdown could cost upwards of $100 billion, according to CNBC, dwarfing the cost of Hurricane Sandy, which devastated the East Coast to the tune of $75 billion.
"That's going to be an amazing recovery situation," Steven Cain, a specialist with Purdue University's Agriculture Communications Service, told CNBC.
The Mississippi river shutdown could strand barges throughout the Mississippi river and could devastate the national economy, according to Merritt Lane, President and CEO of Canal Barge Co.
"It would be very detrimental to the national economy; it will hurt our industry," he told USA Today. "It's not good for Christmas bonuses. It's just not good."
If the drought continues, the Mississippi River shutdown could be the least of many people's concerns.
"If this gets more serious, we're going to have issues between towns and farms in terms of water," Cain said.
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