Friday, August 24, 2012


I am fortunate to know several old timers (ages 65 and above) in the Ozarks who regularly provide perspectives into the current condition of extended drought and unprecedented wildfire conditions. Earlier this summer, maybe back in June, I was told that this summer might shape up to compare to the drought of 1980. By mid-July, with wildfires popping up all over the Ozarks, I was told that this drought has surpassed the 1980 levels. All week I've heard from my old timer friends that they have never seen anything like the conditions they're seeing today. This drought, this long-lasting drought has turned the Maries River into a trickle, and the East Fork section of the Black River is exposed bedrock rather than a fast, clear, swift Ozark stream. I heard earlier today that an early 1900s steam engine has been discovered in the bed of the Gasconade River, submerged all these years underwater and exposed again during this year's drought due to low water levels. (Special thanks to a comment below, two links with the full story of the train found in the Gasconade and the story about the wreck: See here and here  Truly fascinating. It's apparently been seen before, but this year's drought has made it possible to see it again.)

Driving throughout Missouri--North Missouri, Central Ozarks, Southeast Missouri around Poplar Bluff-- the signs of drought are evident. Some areas have had some rain--Park Hills country, Cape Girardeau, but other areas (St. Francois Mountains, Lincoln Hills, and others) have been hit really hard by the drought. Entire woodland canopies are browning out, leaving absolutely no hope for a fall color display and, more importantly, potentially leaving in the wake a mess of dead mature canopy trees. Even in the protected coves of the St. Francois Mountains, the canopy is browning. Sandbar-specific plants are colonizing the Missouri River sandbars. The photo below was taken outside of Centerville last week.

It looks like we may receive some respite from all this dry weather in the coming days, potentially allowing for a fall explosion of glade wildflower blooms.    


Anonymous said...

This may be the train you mention:

Story behind the train wreck:

Anonymous said...

We definitely need a game changer via a tropical system to camp out in the Ozarks. A lot of people are talking about a wet winter..I hope they're right.

Travis said...

As many people (on that forum link and elsewhere) have mentioned, that has been exposed before. i saw it myself sometime around the early 2000's, i think. Many of the rivers are still above historic lows, some considerably. this has been called an agricultural drought, meaning groundwater is reduced, but not as much as it seems like it should be. in 2007 the lakes, streams and ponds all around st louis were lower than they are right now. i just checked this myself, with my own eyes and compared to photographs and data i had. i realize the rivers are low, don't get me wrong, but this has happened several times in the past 100 years.

Allison Vaughn said...

I understand that Travis, that where you live you've had some rain. Parts of Missouri- according to my friends (with whose comments I prefaced the article)- have not seen anything like this before, esp. the whole canopy browning out and the Maries River so low. Granted, I don't know any centenarians in Missouri.