Low water on the Ohio River causing some navigation concerns

Since the 1st of August, the U.S. Coast Guard has reported locally hazardous conditions on the lower Ohio River due to low water levels. The problem is due to a combination of factors. Water levels are seasonably low due to recent dry weather. In addition, the prolonged duration of flooding during the winter and spring contributed to the rapid build-up of silt and mud at certain locations. The "shoaling" caused by the silt has been especially significant near the confluence with the Wabash River. 

Dredging operations have kept the river channel open for the most part. The river was briefly closed to barge traffic in the Smithland, KY area for a day or two. 

The following problem spots were reported on the Ohio River as of August 20:

  • The Coast Guard advised that shoaling continues to be a problem near mile marker 848. Mile marker 848 is where the Wabash River empties into the Ohio River. 
  • Low water conditions are causing a hazard at mile marker 959.2, which is about 5 miles upriver from the new Olmsted Lock and Dam project (near Lock 53). A vessel grounded at that location. Mariners should check Coast Guard broadcasts for the latest notices to mariners.

Low water conditions also reportedly exist between Cairo, Illinois and Memphis, Tennessee on the Mississippi River. The Coast Guard urges mariners to monitor gauge readings for safe navigation.

HISTORY: The river stage at J.T. Myers Lock and Dam (near Uniontown, KY) was 12.3 feet Wednesday morning. By comparison, the stage during the low water event of August, 2006 was 12.1 feet. The record low level is 11.7 feet, which occurred in August of 2005. 

FORECAST: August rainfall at Paducah was only 0.06 inch through the 20th. There is a chance of some rain over the next several days, mainly downriver from Evansville.


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