Miss. River at lowest point ever in Memphis

Mississippi River levels a concern for visitors at Shelby Forest State Park
Mississippi River levels a concern for visitors at Shelby Forest State Park(action news 5)
Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 2:37 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Mississippi River in Memphis is at its lowest point ever.

The National Weather service reports the river stage at -10.75 on Monday.

The previous record is -10.70 in 1988. This means the level is below the agreed-upon zero level; it doesn’t mean the river is empty or below ground.

Stage is the water level above some arbitrary point -- usually with the zero height being near the river bed -- in the river and is commonly measured in feet.

A river’s stage at a point (a gauge reading) is not an absolute measure of the depth of the water in the channel, so when a river gauge reads zero or in the negative numbers, it doesn’t mean that the river has gone totally dry. It means that the gauge is reading at or below the agreed-upon zero level.

  • That gauge zero level is chosen considering many factors, like the USGS references (or benchmarks) that are near to the gauge site, or an historical level that may have been used for a hundred years or more. These gauge zero levels aren’t changed very often.

On Tuesday, viewer Danny Day shared photos of boats sitting in the mud at Mud Island’s Harbor Landing, where water levels are at a historical low.

Lieutenant Hunter Smith with the Memphis Fire Department reported that firefighters had to relocate their fire boat to another location due to the low water.

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