Grace Smith | November 1, 2022
Central U.S. is experiencing the region’s worst drought in a decade, dropping the Mississippi River to record low levels in October. According to the National Weather Service, the river dropped 10.75 feet by the end of October, which is the lowest level ever documented in Memphis, Tennessee. This surpasses the previous low of minus 10.7 feet in 1988.
The Mississippi River makes up 41 percent of the U.S. and drains water from 32 states. Many states in the Mississippi Basin are experiencing extreme droughts throughout June and September, including Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.
In Cairo, Illinois, water levels are the lowest they have been since 1901. The Tennessee Valley Agency said it would add more water from two dams to even out the river’s low levels. “To help stabilize commercial navigation conditions on the lower Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, we are scheduling special water releases from Kentucky Dam on the Tennessee River and Barkley Dam on the Cumberland River to help low river level impacts,” the agency wrote in a Facebook post.
Through drought in central U.S. and the low levels of the Mississippi River, artifacts and land emerge. Citizens can now walk to Tower Rock, an island normally surrounded by the river and only accessible by boat. In addition, an old riverboat casino — The Diamond Lady — that was running in 1990 but sank in 2021 has submerged in Memphis, Tennessee because of the river’s low levels.