DROUGHT IN THE MIDWEST AND ON THE GULF COAST HAS SLOWED THE FLOW ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER, ALLOWING SALT WATER TO INFILTRATE DRINKING WATER SUPPLIES IN LOUISIANA COMMUNITES NEAR NEW ORLEANS
- It’s been a rough summer weatherwise in Louisiana. This summer was the third driest and the hottest on record in the state—a situation which provoked a series of wildfires. This turn of events marks a sea change from 2021’s parade of land-falling hurricanes which saw CAT 4 Hurricanes Ida and Laura roar off the Gulf of Mexico—each with 150-mph sustained winds. Of those storms, tropical weather expert Dr. Jeff Masters, founder of Weather Underground and blogger with Yale Climate Communications newsletter, reported, “Ida had a damage cost of $78.7 billion (CPI adjusted) and killed 96 people from the Louisiana coast to the Northeast. Laura’s coastal strike amounted to $26 billion in damage (CPI adjusted) and claimed 42 lives).” And, who will ever forget devastating Hurricane Katrina’s catastrophic hit on New Orleans in 2005 which killed 1,833 there and in surrounding Gulf states?
- The current situation involving fresh water supplies drawn from the Mississippi River in Louisiana couldn’t be more different. It has grown severe enough in the wake of heat and drought of the past summer and a second year of low Mississippi River levels that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has plans to deliver DAILY supplies of fresh water, amounting to 36-million gallons of water to communities near New Orleans whose water supplies have been rendered “brackish” and therefore undrinkable by an influx salt water from the Gulf of Mexico.
- Salt water is denser than fresh water. So as the flow of the Mississippi slows due to drought, salt water from the Gulf of Mexico has been able to creep northward in the lowest depths of the river. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been trying to halt or slow the salt water’s advance by constructing a series of underwater “sills”—sub-water piles of silt dredged into vast piles using river bottom sedmiment—designed to slow the northward advance of salt water. It’s estimated the Corps might have to do this every five years to address the situation—and has already engaged in producing these “sills” three times: 1988, in 1999, and in 2012.
- Salt water could reach New Orleans fresh water supplies in a matter of weeks, reports H20—an environmental new letter. (https://h2oradio.org)
- THERE ARE MIDWEST CONSEQUENCES TO THE DROUGHT AND LOW MISSISSIPPI RIVER LEVELS I’ve reported on here as well in recent weeks. Reports the H20 Radio newsletter:
“Barge companies have had to reduce their loads on the Mississippi at a time when harvested crops in the Midwest are about to be sent to New Orleans. About 60 percent of U.S. grain exports are shipped on the river each year.”
Construction of the saltwater sill in the Mississippi River. Conservative estimates show that the sill would need to be constructed an average of about once every five years. Since completion of the 45-foot channel, a sill has been constructed three times: in 1988, in 1999, and in 2012. Construction is currently underway for the 50-foot channel.
Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/H2O Media, Ltd.
The latest DROUGHT MONITOR showing the expansive area of drought in the Midwest.
MONDAY MORNING TOWERING CUMULONIMBUS CLOUDS
- This Monday morning GOES EAST true color satellite image centered on the Greater Chicago area shows the towering cumulonimbus clouds which have turned the early morning skies so dark in the Chicago area. NO SEVERE WEATHER has been reported with these cells—just showers and some isolated lightning and thunder–and, of course, the threatening looking skies.
- Morning visible satellite images always offer a feel for just how tall clouds are because the clouds cast shadows to their west in the early morning sunlight which shines in from the east. You really see the shadows being cast by these tall clouds over northeast Illinois and southeast Wisconsin—even extreme northwest Indiana—this morning.
- Doppler radar scans put cloud tops across Chicago’s southern suburbs near Steger at 35,000 ft. with lightning being detected there—and cloud tops north across Cook county are being scanned in the 22,000 to 27,000 ft. range. Clouds of that height are able to block sunlight lending the sky a dark, threatening look.
- Also, note the waves being generated by the easterly winds blowing around the sprawling Quebec-centered late Sept high pressure system which has been behind the east winds which have been a part of Chicago weather pattern all weekend.