Mississippi River Shutting Down

It looks like there’s a global slowdown / drying up of major rivers. China is having issues with the Tree Gorges damn & associated rivers. Europe is having trouble moving coal to power plants. Well, the USA is involved as well.

The Mississippi has more or less halted barge traffic from about Memphis down to Greenville, Ms.

This means farmers can’t ship harvested grains out, nor can fertilizer be shipped in up the Mississippi. Coal and oil movement is having issues as well.

Any expectation that the USA Midwest is going to bail out the EU or Rest Of World with grain shipments right now has just run aground. We need rain all over the catchment basin to fix this. Worse, there’s a limited time window to get fertilizer up river and onto the land. That limits next year’s crops. The only good news on that is that rain could come at any time; and that for many cops the fertilizer can be applied well into next spring (winter wheat not so much…)

This guy covers it all in very good detail. Lots of graphs and charts too, so you don’t need to listen to all his patter to “get it”, but closed captions worked well too.

Just as a side bar: In my opinion, we get droughts and low river levels when the climate is cooling. Water evaporates from the oceans and falls as precipitation when the water is hotter. Less evaporates when it is cooler. We’re cooling right now.

Note too that this is the eighth lowest ever. That means 7 times prior were worse and we lived. It also means “Global Warming” is not the cause as there were 7 times before when it wasn’t Global Warming. This is just normal, if bothersome, weather.

This latest solar change has also shifted us into a Merdional Flow that makes some places hotter, others colder, some wetter, others dryer. sometimes for days, sometimes weeks, sometimes longer. Basically the “usually expected” weather from 30 years of mostly zonal flow reverts to the more variable pattern I remember from the 1960’s to ’70s. (Just before The Great Pacific Climate Shift that was used as cover for “Global Warming” but is just a normal climate cycle – just longer than most folks attention span and many of their lives…) It is time to expect change and variability again for as long as meridional flow patterns dominate.

Expect global dependencies to be disrupted as China has trouble making things (electricity rationing from 3 Gorges Damn being short of water), shipping things (Mississippi being low to lower water), or just keeping staff alive and available (Colorado River low and about to have a “go dark” on both the Parker and Mead lakes / turbines – so Phoenix to Las Vegas to Los Angeles Basin to be dark and dry when that happens, likely September 2023). Season with inability to get coal to power generation stations (USA midwest, Germany) and it will be “interesting times”.

This most likely is also hitting a lot of other rivers ( IIRC, the Po in Italy was causing trouble) and ought to be a global phenomenon.

Subscribe to feed


About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in AGW and Weather News Events, Economics - Trading - and Money, Emergency Preparation and Risks, News Related. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Mississippi River Shutting Down

  1. erl happ says:

    Well its not global because the rain that pundits like Tim Flannery said had ‘disappeared for ever’ is drowning the east coast of Australia once again and that will hurt coal shipments. So, its likely to be a hemispheric shift in the distribution of moisture from the tropics. This is the month when surface pressure on the margins of Antarctica hits its annual minimum. https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/isobaric/1000hPa/overlay=total_precipitable_water/equirectangular=-240.00,0.00,300/loc=86.833,-5.736

    I guess the climate shift of 1976-8 is going to reverse some time or other.

    On another topic, the Nasdaq down 3% yesterday. US dollar rising fast. If the Fed pivots to QE and the dollar collapses?? Raises the question: What is the real reason for the tightening of credit. Is the Fed horrified at what’s happening in the UK and wants to keep the money coming in to finance the burgeoning deficits?

    Seems to me that much of the inflationary pressure is due to underinvestment in fossil fuel production. Birds are coming home to roost. Newcastle thermal coal selling at eight times cost of production. One Australian producer has a PE of 2 and paying a 18% dividend.

  2. Ossqss says:

    Triple dip La Niña and on our way to a 4th.

  3. Graeme No.3 says:

    In Australia much of southern Qld., western NSW and Victoria have had heavy rains, and this is reducing vegetables delivery, and farmers are finding it hard to get into the paddocks and spread fertiliser.
    I think that the Rhine river is at normal levels now. Now all Germany has to do is run any coal-fired plants left at full capacity. They will need the electricity this winter.
    And I saw a claim that Bulgaria is going to buy Russian gas again. No doubt the EU bureaucrats will try to bully them.

  4. Julian Jones says:

    Many thanks EM …

    A UK farmer found “a 10C temperature difference between soil that has cover crops and organic matter and that which does not … the methods he uses make soil act as a “massive sponge”, holding water and needing less irrigation.”

    In other words – going back to traditional rotational agric & composts; to restore the “massive sponge” (and temperatures) – now lost across virtually all arable farmlands globally.

    Until we do this will continue to experience extremes of precipitation; as Schauberger warned around a century ago, we have created a ‘half water cycle’.

    No doubt also solar variability also plays a role but secondary in terms of these wider terrestrial effects.

    Where these aridifying chemical farming practices are conducted on large scale, eg EU & Australia, precipitation will swing from ‘droughts’ to extreme floods.

    This all gets blamed on greenhouse gases of course – eg, see “High temperatures exacerbated by climate change made 2022 Northern Hemisphere droughts more likely” ; no attempt made here to correlate with time series data on continental scale changes in soil quality caused by chemical farming practices.

  5. Julian Jones says:

    sorry missed this link, for “High temperatures exacerbated by climate change made 2022 Northern Hemisphere droughts more likely” – https://www.worldweatherattribution.org/wp-content/uploads/WCE-NH-drought-scientific-report.pdf

  6. Julian Jones says:

    A theological take on all this (for Gloucester Diocese last month) : https://bit.ly/3C4lwwL

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    @Erl Happ & Graeme No. 3:

    So you folks have all our water? “Give it back….” ;-)

    I expected to find that there were wet and dry sides of the “loops” in the jet stream. I’d not thought about a N/S divide…. Hmmm…. Wonder if Africa or South America is wetter than normal…

    @Julian Jones:

    Every rural motorcycle rider knows about that. In the evenings / night I’d ride past an orchard or a field full of green crops and it would be darned cool / cold. Then ride past a dry ploughed field of dirt and be warm. Similarly hitting a city would be several degrees warmer and a lot less humid than a growing field.

    When you are quite cold on a bike, hitting one of those warm patches (city or dry dirt) was a very memorable feeling ;-)

    An orchard with full flood irrigation (about 3 inches deep puddle of water for a mile or more) would be down right chilling on a night ride. (I was about 18 then, and was riding without any “leathers”. Just Levi’s and a shirt. Arriving somewhere at, oh, 6 PM and 95 F was fine. Then riding home at midnight and 70-something F was OK, until you hit the cold high humidity irrigated area… )

  8. David A says:

    This may be a part of what is happening. Antarctica has been incredibly cold….https://electroverse.net/the-south-pole-just-suffered-its-coldest-winter-in-recorded-history/

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    Yup. The Po is drying up too. Looks like I remembered it right.


    Po River – The Longest River in Italy – Dries Up
    TOPICS:Climate ScienceDroughtEuropean Space AgencyWeather
    Water in the Po Valley has now dropped to record-low levels, partly as a result of the lack of rainfall that northern Italy has been suffering, as well as high temperatures and a lack of snow in the mountains that feed the river. Many of these areas have now been without any rain at all for more than 110 days, according to the Po River Observatory.

    The Po River is normally a wide stretch of murky water (as seen in the June 2020 image acquisition) but has now dried up with large expanses of sand exposed (as seen in the June 2022 image acquisition).

    The Po Valley is the most important agricultural area in the country, as it produces around 40% of Italy’s food including wheat, rice, and tomatoes. With the ongoing drought, farmers are struggling to keep crops irrigated and many towns in the Po Valley have been asked to ration water during the night amidst the drought.

    In China several lakes and rivers involved, but the “biggie” is the Yangtze


    A record-breaking drought has caused parts of the Yangtze River to dry up – affecting hydropower, shipping routes, limiting drinking water supplies, and even revealing previously submerged Buddhist statues.

    As China’s most important river, the Yangtze provides water to more than 400 million Chinese people. This summer, with rainfall in the Yangtze basin around 45% lower than normal, it reached record-low water levels with entire sections and dozens of tributaries drying up. The loss of water flow to China’s extensive hydropower system has created problems in Sichuan, which receives more than 80% of its energy from hydropower.

    But it does look like some of the Southern Hemisphere is involved too:


    BUENOS AIRES, Jan 26 2022 (IPS) – Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, the three major agricultural producers in South America, are currently experiencing a prolonged period of drought and low water levels in their main rivers. This is severely impacting harvests, as well as river transport of important summer crops, with maize and soybeans the main casualties.

    Although conditions may yet improve, the grain harvests of 2021 and 2022 could result in losses that will impact the economies of three countries, though experts say the potential magnitude is still difficult to foresee.

    For soy, South America’s star grain, projections for possible losses caused by adverse weather in the countries vary. The most conservative forecasts come from the United States Department of Agriculture, which anticipates a 9.5 million tonne shortfall, while others forecast more acute losses, such as the Brazilian agency AgRural, which estimates a 20 million tonne reduction in production across the three countries.

    Brazil is the world’s leading producer and exporter of soybeans and the world’s third largest producer of maize. Both grain crops are suffering this season due to the lack of rain in the country’s southern states, and will see smaller harvests than were expected a month ago

    As for maize, it will be difficult for Argentina and Brazil to reach the output that they expected even a few weeks ago, according to a report by agribusiness consultant Marianela de Emilio. “The weather continues to put South America’s production projections on a tightrope, with planting area adjustments and potential yields down,” she explained.
    Weather projections, at least until the end of March or early April, are not too encouraging for the entire region, as the La Niña climate pattern continues to impact South American weather, and contributes to drought in the three countries.

    IMHO, the La Niña is not the cause, but the messenger. It is the fundamental shift to a more meridional pattern for long periods of time that causes more La Niña patterns that reflect as drought and low rivers…

    But whatever… The “Bottom Line” is that a lot of the world is suffering low rivers with the associated irrigation difficulties, hydroelectric power loss, and transport problems. Now including the entire Mississippi Basin (that is basically everything from the Appalachians to the Rockies… the entire US Mid-West to West “bread basket”; and the Colorado that covers all the way to California from the headwaters in Colorado.

    Rivers, it’s a thing…

  10. David A says:

    EM, my link above and here
    is interesting. Record cold year in antarctica, This last link is in many ways a replacement for Ice Age now, with a bit more theory added.

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    @David A:

    Reading that article:

    Between the months of April and September, the South Pole averaged a temperature of -61.1C (-78F).

    Simply put, this was the region’s coldest 6-month spell ever recorded, and it comfortably usurped the previous coldest ‘coreless winter‘ on record — the -60.6C (-77F) set back in 1976 (solar minimum of weak cycle 20).

    It looks to me like CO2 Clathrate would be stable at those temperatures, Might get some CO2 suckage from the atmosphere…


    The dark gray region (V-I-H) represents the conditions at which CO2 hydrate is stable together with gaseous CO2 and water ice (below 273.15 K). On the horizontal axes the temperature is given in kelvins and degrees Celsius (bottom and top respectively). On the vertical ones are given the pressure (left)

    At 1 Bar I eyeball the “dark gray” are stretching from about -70 C to -50 C.

    Big question I see is just “is there enough water at those temps to form a clathrate”? The air gets darned dry when it is that cold… OTOH, it would explain some of the reports of “fizzy ice” from folks at the South Pole…

  12. David A says:

    NH snow pack is building early. More water than usual is frozen for this time of year.https://electroverse.co/nh-snow-season-off-to-record-start-cold-scandinavia-snow-nz-cold-australia-nyc-x-flare/

  13. jim2 says:

    Earlier, the Rhine was running low. Not sure if that cleared up or not.

  14. John Hultquist says:

    I’ve had a long-term interest in the many rivers of the Mississippi drainage.

    In 1988 there was low flow and in 1993 there was high flow – – both caused by CO2. :) NBC-TV, I think, compiled a video from their news feeds and sold it for a few dollars. It is called The Great Flood of ’93.

    In 1965-’67 I was in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Ohio River flooded one of those springs. It didn’t make the “top 10” list, but it was significant. On the south side of the river the Licking River, flowing north, enters. Covington, Kty is on the west side and Newport on the east. The former had levies, but Newport had less value, so no levies were justified. Some houses were on stilts, others flooded.

    Other: My great grandfather and other young men cut trees on the western hills of Pennsylvania and floated the logs to Pittsburgh. There they were milled, and the lumber used to make flat-boats. Search-up “Ohio River flat boats” using images.
    Often when these folks reached and crossed the Mississippi the boats were taken apart and rebuilt as wagons for the next leg of the migration west. The search string “wagons on the Oregon Trail” will get you images of those.
    I’ve sort of followed that same path as some of the Western PA’s trees — Pennsylvania to Washington State.

  15. David A says:

    Regarding the Rhine I heard the last month was 168 percent of normal precipitation.

  16. John Hultquist says:

    You have heard that history doesn’t repeat but it does rhyme:
    The preacher man says it’s the end of time
    And the Mississippi River she’s a-goin’ dry
    The interest is up and the Stock Market’s down
    And you only get mugged if you go downtown

    “A Country Boy Can Survive”; Hank Jr. Williams – 1981

  17. beng135 says:

    Alot of the US is dry or in drought. Where I’m at in the central Appalachians is one of areas of exception. https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

  18. cdquarles says:

    If that map uses the flawed Palmer index, then it is off some. It shows my area as abnormally dry. That’s not entirely correct for my area. The water year starts October 1st. The two driest months locally are September and October. They average 3 inches per month. The calendar year to-date is still above average. The new water year isn’t, but it just started on the 1st. We’ve had about 2 to 2.5 inches of rain so far this month. So “dry” but not a drought nor “abnormally dry”.

  19. cdquarles says:

    That being said, the forecast for the rest of the weekend has between a tenth of an inch and a quarter of an inch, provided the core of one or more thunderstorms doesn’t dump more. So, if that happens, the month will be close to average for rainfall.

  20. E.M.Smith says:

    FWIW, I’m presently in Tulsa, Ok. and we visited the Arkansas “River” that is presently about the size of a small creek….

    My friend took some pictures and if I’m lucky I can get some copies. It is basically just gone, with some residual drainage from the big semi-mud-puddles in the river bottom.

    There is a storm going through, but it looks to me like it will barely get the soil wet and trees filled; leaving not much for runoff.

    I’d guess it would take an entire rainy season to fill that thing back up.

    Oh, and tomorrow will be driving back to Florida, so I’ll return to being out of touch…

  21. cdquarles says:

    The rain arrived and we got about a half of an inch. So, another “average” month for rain. (The exact average will almost never happen. The actual amount will be in a range around the average.)

Anything to say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.