The Mississippi River gauge hit a record-low water level on October 11 at Memphis, Tennessee. The all-time low hit -11.52 feet. It surpasses the previous low of -10.81 feet set in October 2022.
The weekly USDA Grain Transportation Report says records were also broken on the Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois. That gauge read 4.5 feet, the lowest river level since 1901. Draft and tow-size restrictions are in place along the entire Mississippi River system. Despite some recent rains, more rain will be needed to raise water levels enough to improve the navigation conditions.
Water levels are projected to rise by late October and early November, but navigation conditions aren’t expected to improve before late December or early January. Despite the navigation issues, the recent St. Louis spot freight rate fell for the third week in a row to $23.06 per ton, 68 percent below the same week last year.