A few months ago, the Mississippi River basin was flooding following a summer of historic rainfall through the Midwest. Now, the region is experiencing a drought, causing the Mississippi River to suddenly fall to historically low levels—leaving the shipping industry in a crisis and uncovering a long-lost shipwreck.
The river runs from northern Minnesota through the Midwest to its final destination in Louisiana. It’s a major channel for shipping and tourism, but within the last month, the river has dried up so much that far fewer boats are able to sit in the water, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Missouri residents have even been able to walk across a dry, exposed riverbed to an island that’s normally only accessible by boat. A Mississippi resident discovered human remains along the river’s new banks. Some Louisiana residents have received drinking water advisories due to ocean water creeping into the river from the Gulf of Mexico.
Down in Louisiana, a 200-year-old shipwreck has been uncovered along the banks in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Experts were aware the ship was down there, but it is the first time the ship has been fully exposed.
Scientists have said they are surprised the river has dried up so much, even with the recent drought.
“There is no rain in sight, that is the bottom line,” Lisa Parker, spokeswoman for the USACE Mississippi Valley Division, told the Journal. “The rivers are just bottoming out.”