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Lack of rain affecting water levels at Reelfoot Lake, Mississippi River

Lack of rain affecting water levels at Reelfoot Lake, Mississippi River

Posted: Friday, December 7, 2012 9:05 pm
By: By Brent Callicott

Warm weather has brought better chances of rainfall to the area over the last few days and should help keep things moist through this weekend and into the first of next week.
On Tuesday, I received around one inch of rainfall at my home with some parts of the county receiving in the half-inch range. Several areas in West Tennessee was near the one-inch mark as well. More rain is predicted this weekend with better rains early next week. Any rain that falls is welcomed by all, especially the waterfowl hunters.
Every drop of rain that falls into Reelfoot Lake will help with the water levels. It still remains close to 20 inches below the normal lake level. Long-range weather forecast is showing above normal precipitation over the next few weeks and into the winter months. It only takes one or two good storm systems to move through with rain once the ground has good moisture levels near the top to allow runoff.
Not only have the water levels in Reelfoot Lake been affected by the lack of rainfall, one of the largest freshwater bodies of water in the world has also been affected, the Mississippi River.
It was during the spring of 2011, when a large part of the Mississippi Valley was hit with major flooding. Do you remember how things were before that flooding took place and how quickly things changed? However, ongoing drought over much of the basin since the spring of 2012 has turned concern around 180 degrees.
So far this year, we are now close to the 33-inch mark for rainfall in the Obion County area in general. I have seen since around mid-June, 21.62 inches of rainfall at my home. Last year at this time we were near the 66-inch mark in total rainfall for 2011.
Battles continue to heat up over water management of the Mississippi River and some of its tributaries, but not for flood control. The issue now is how the little water that is left is shared.
Water levels for much of the winter are likely to continue to plunge over much of the Mississippi River, especially north of the Ohio River confluence. The low water levels will not only impact the local economy along the river, but perhaps on a national basis as well.
During the summer, Mississippi River levels challenged half-century lows at a number of locations. While slight recovery occurred during the first part of the fall, river levels are again on their way down and could challenge record low marks. A large portion of the Mississippi River, north of the Ohio River gathers its moisture from the Great Plains and the Upper Midwest, which is experiencing severe to exceptional drought.
From a hydrological standpoint, the forecast clipper pattern would likely not be enough to contribute to much runoff come spring over the Plains and the upper Mississippi River.
During times of drought, or when high flow rates create sand bars, the Corps will dredge or blast rock away from the Mississippi River bottom to keep the main channel open.
Reservoir levels over the Missouri Basin are also being impacted by the drought also. The reservoirs are running below-average for this time of the year. The Missouri River feeds into the Mississippi River at St. Louis.
River barge traffic is moving but there are areas that things are tough with the navigation on the mighty Mississippi. This past weekend, I was able to view the Mississippi River both at Dyersburg and in Memphis and yes folks, it is very low. Huge sandbars can be seen for miles … some hundreds of acres large.
The weather pattern can change at any time. That has been proven time and time again.
Waterfowl hunting also depends highly on water levels for many hunters. I checked in with several folks who hunt around Reelfoot Lake and West Tennessee and they report the ducks are simply not here. Some blinds on Reelfoot Lake are having decent days hunting mixed in but harvest numbers are low everywhere. The weather needs to get colder and at the same time the rains need to set in and raise water levels everywhere. Some private landowners who prepare places to hunt are doing fair to good with their hunts but nothing like they hoped for. This should get better and back when I hunted, from January 1st ‘til the closing day of the season was always my best.
Hunters also bagged a record number of deer during Kentucky’s modern gun season, which ended Monday. The 92,737 deer reported taken is a new record, surpassing the previous record of 87,205 set in 2004, according to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. They credit this high number harvested deer due to the good weather on all three weekends of the season. No rain, no snow or any type harsh weather to affect the deer hunting. Kentucky’s deer herd is estimated to be more than 900,000. Three of the top 10 counties with the record harvest were from western Kentucky — Crittenden, 2,750; Graves, 2,674; Christian, 2,450 deer harvested.
Kentucky’s all-time record deer harvest of 124,752, may be eclipsed, too. Last season, the combined harvest for the months of December and January was 15,617 deer.
As of Nov. 28, the total deer harvest for the season was 117,951, according to deer harvest results posted on the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at
Last year, the umbrella rigs were banned from being fished during competition on the BassMaster Elite Series Tour. The 2013 season will be no different. In recent months, multiple sources had been reporting that B.A.S.S. (Bass Anglers Sportsman Society) was open to the idea of allowing a one-hook version of an umbrella rig in competition in 2013. However, that notion was quickly put to rest with the release of the 2013 Elite Series rules, which prohibit the use of multi-lure rigs as was the case in 2012.
Since my column last Friday, I have had several people ask about the Helping Hand Ministry’s  collecting deer meat. If you will, simply call them at 885-3924 and ask for Stacia McIntosh. She will then tell you what to do from there. Helping Hand Ministry is located at 430 North Miles Ave. in Union City and their hours of service of being open at their location is Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.
Remember, if you would like to pass along anything to our readers about the outdoors, please do so by contacting me at 446-3678 or by emailing me at We would also like to encourage you to send us your pictures, especially of the young outdoors people.

Til next weeks column,
Catch ya on the water folks.

Published in The Messenger 12.7.12