Mississippi river faces shipping freeze as water levels drop
(Guardian UK) The Mississippi as seen from Ed Drager's tug boat is a river in retreat: a giant beached barge is stranded where the water dropped, with sand bars springing into view. The floating barge office where the tug boat captain reports for duty is tilted like a funhouse. One side now rests on the exposed shore. "I've never seen the river this low," Drager said. "It's weird."
The worst drought in half a century has brought water levels in the Mississippi close to historic lows and could shut down all shipping in a matter of weeks – unless Barack Obama takes extraordinary measures.
It's the second extreme event on the river in 18 months, after flooding in the spring of 2011 forced thousands to flee their homes.
Without rain, water levels on the Mississippi are projected to reach historic lows this month, the national weather service said in its latest four-week forecast. ...................(more)