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Illinois River levels hit a low water mark after dry spell in the Midwest

Creative Commons/synspectrum

The Illinois River remains at just below 12 feet deep after weeks with no precipitation.

According to the National Weather Service, the water levels have remained stagnant and will remain so despite some rain in the upcoming forecast.

Meteorologist Alex Erwin said the dry spell is not only affecting Illinois, but also surrounding states.

“We do have some rain in the forecast,” he said, “Tuesday and Wednesday, at least here, kind of in our area along the Illinois River, with precipitation amounts of between about a half inch to one inch, but it doesn't look like there'll be a significant response in the river to those precipitation amounts.”

The lowest recorded river levels ever recorded date back to 1938, when the river was measured at just 7.3 feet.

Low river levels can pose a threat to river vehicle navigation and traffic. State climatologist Trent Ford said this can put restrictions on essential crop movement out of Illinois.

"A lot of especially commodity crop movement out of Illinois is on barge traffic, and when there are these kind of low flow situations, there can be restrictions as to when and how many barges can get through to the critical ports, of you know, New Orleans and Galveston," Ford said.

He added the current dry spell is causing agricultural issues across the Midwest.

"Regionally, when we look at the entire kind of upper Midwest, it's been in a very dry pattern over the last few weeks, really the last couple of months. And so, that's what's been really causing kind of regional issues and kind of low flow along the Mississippi and the Ohio River" he said.

Ford hopes the rain returns soon and the issues surrounding agricultural yield and transportation are resolved with an increase in precipitation.

WGLT's Lyndsay Jones contributed reporting.

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Isabela Nieto is a student reporting intern at WCBU. Isabela is also a student at Bradley University in Peoria.