Mississippi River sees lowest water levels in a decade
Below-normal rainfall and above-average temperatures intensified drought conditions, broadening the geographic areas of drought across the U.S. in October 2022.
Those dry conditions were also felt along the Mississippi River, where some locations reported their lowest water levels in 10 years.
Here are more highlights from NOAA’s latest monthly U.S. climate report:
Climate by the numbers
The average October temperature across the contiguous U.S. was 55.3 degrees F, 1.2 degrees above the 20th-century average, ranking in the warmest third in the climate record.
Several states had a top-10 warm October. Looking at the western U.S., Washington saw its warmest October on record, Oregon its second warmest, and California its seventh warmest. Along the eastern U.S., Maine had its sixth-warmest October.
The average precipitation was 1.66 inches — 0.50 of an inch below average — placing the month in the driest third of Octobers on record.
Florida had its eighth-driest October on record while California and Minnesota each saw their 11th driest. Conversely, an abundance of precipitation during the month gave New Jersey its 10th-wettest October on record.
Year to date (YTD, January through October 2022)
The average U.S. temperature for the YTD was 56.7 degrees F, 1.7 degrees above the 20th-century average, ranking as the 13th-warmest such YTD in the climate record. California saw its third warmest while Oregon saw its sixth warmest.
The U.S. precipitation total for the YTD was 23.19 inches — 2.17 inches below average — ranking as the 15th-driest such YTD on record. California had its driest, Nebraska ranked fourth and Nevada saw its eighth driest on record for this 10-month period.
Other notable climate events
- The Mississippi River ran historically low: The Mississippi River dropped to its lowest water levels in a decade near Memphis, Tennessee, and Vicksburg, Mississippi, closing off a vital channel to barge traffic at a crucial time of year for crop transportation. In October 2022, the U.S. Coast Guard reported a total of eight barges that ran aground, along with a long backup of 144 vessels and 2,253 barges trying to access narrow river passages.
- More of the nation impacted by drought: According to the November 1, 2022, U.S. Drought Monitor report, about 62.8% of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, up approximately 11.9% from the end of September. Drought conditions expanded or intensified across much of the Southeast and Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee valleys, and parts of the Plains, central Rockies and Northwest. Drought conditions shrank or were eliminated across portions of the Southwest, southern Plains, Northeast and Hawaii.
John Bateman, firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 424-0929