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NOAA – Warm, Dry October Intensifies U.S. Drought

NOAA – Warm, Dry October Intensifies U.S. Drought

Created: Tuesday, November 15, 2022 - 10:56
General Security and Resilience, Research

Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a monthly climate report for October. Overall, October was characterized by below-normal rainfall and above-average temperatures intensified drought conditions, broadening the geographic areas of drought across the country.

Intensifying dry conditions have notably impacted the Mississippi River, with some locations reporting their lowest water levels in 10 years. Specifically, 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 and disrupting supply chains. 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. The low water levels are also affecting drinking water sourced from the river. Saltwater intrusion, which happens when saltwater moves into fresh water, is linked to water from the nearby Gulf of Mexico flowing into the region’s water system as severe drought caused water levels of the Mississippi River to plunge. Consequently, residents in a southern Louisiana community with health issues are being advised not to drink the via the local water system.

Additionally, as noted earlier, more of the U.S. is being impacted by drought. According to the November 1, 2022, U.S. Drought Monitor report, about 63 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, up approximately 12 percent 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. Read more at NOAA.