From One Extreme to the OtherWhile in 2011 the Mississippi river reached historic levels and rose out of its banks, this year the story is completely different because of the extended drought that has hit the US. It's so bad that it can even be seen from space, as NASA shows us.
The image above (taken August 8, 2012) shows the effects of the drought, and the one below (taken August 14, 2011) is the comparison pic of "before" at a time when the river's level was much higher. The best way to see it is to go to NASA's site and click on the "image comparison" button that shows you how the two images overlap. This allows you to really see the difference in the level of the Mississippi river and in the color of the fields that surround it.
"As of August 17, 2012, river gauges in the Memphis region recorded levels at -2.4 to -8.3 feet (below historic normal stage). At the time of the August 2011 image, the river stage was 11.7 feet. (In May 2011, the river peaked at 56.6 feet in the same location.)"
The low water levels followed record-setting temperatures and dry weather. By the end of July, 63% of the contiguous United States was in drought, affecting both crops and water supplies.
See also: The Future Ain't What it Used to Be!