The release of water from Carlyle Lake and rainstorms Wednesday night and Thursday morning helped ease the low water problems of the Mississippi River from St. Louis to the south.
But a Coast Guard official warned that the reprieve is temporary and that water levels still are expected to drop to historic lows -- about two weeks later than originally expected.
"The Carlyle bump, as we're calling it, has increased the Mississippi River level significantly," U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Colin Fogarty said. "But, unfortunately, it's only temporary. This will help us for a few days. But it's definitely not going to get us through the winter or anything like that."
According to the National Weather Service, the river was .71 feet below gauge Friday and it is expected to reach .40 feet below gauge by Saturday. The river was 3.56 feet below normal, or about 9 feet deep in the shipping channel on Dec. 16 at St. Louis.
Fogarty said the problems on the river are caused by last summer's extended drought. So it's going to take a lot more rain to get the river back to normal on a permanent basis.
Because the ground is so dry it soaks up much of the water that would otherwise end up in the river, so the relatively modest amount of rain the area has seen lately is only a temporary reprieve for the river.
Predicted to reach 5 feet below normal by the end of December previously, now the river is expected by the National Weather Service to be about 3.5 feet below normal on Dec. 31 and hit the 5 feet below normal mark by the middle of January.
The all-time record low for the river at St. Louis is 6.2 feet below gauge set in 1940.
Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 239-2626.