Mississippi River nears historic lows, shipping at risk
(Reuters) - The drought-drained Mississippi River will rise slightly later this week between St. Louis and Cairo, Illinois, but later continue its decline toward historic lows, according to a National Weather Service forecast.
Low water, due to the worst U.S. drought since 1956, has already impeded the flow of billions of dollars worth of grain, coal, fertilizer and other commodities between the central United States and shipping terminals at the Gulf of Mexico.
Last week, the council said the river along the Cairo-St. Louis stretch would be too low for navigation by January 7 but on Wednesday it said shipping may come to a halt between January 5 and 15.
A shutdown could affect more than 8,000 jobs, cost $54 million in wages and benefits, and halt the movement of 7.2 million tons of commodities valued at $2.8 billion, the two industry groups said.