The following pictures are of the Mississippi from this year and last. The 2012 drought has lowered the river level.
The water level is down as much as 40 feet from a year ago.
Its so dry, grass is growing on the sandbanks.
The low water is raising hell with the river traffic. Some headlines:
How big a deal is this? Big. ABC put the potential hit to the economy at $300Mn a day. As many as 400k jobs are in play. The have a quote from the Army Corps of Engineers suggesting the problem is not going away anytime soon.
I was surprised to learn that 90% of the nation's waterborne commercial deliveries are on the Mississippi.
The Army Corps got its forecast of "no relief" from NOAA. The 30 day forecast shows a continuation of the dry conditions in the center of the country. There is no reason to be optimistic looking at the 90 day outlook.
The only winners in this story are the rail-roads. Everyone else will pay a bit more. In some cases there might be shortages (rock salt/chemicals up north). Global grain, corn and bean supplies may get disrupted. Add another few percent to the already skyrocketing price of raw food stocks.