Missouri River levels drop as drought lingers

NAPOLEON, Mo. - The Missouri River reached near-record levels last summer and this year the problem couldn't be any more opposite.

The Army Corps of Engineers monitors a river gauge in the small town of Napoleon, Mo., east of Kansas City. Friday, it measured the depth at 7.34 feet deep, which is well below normal.

"It's extremely low. It's as low as I've ever seen it," said Steve Bell, who has lived along the river for 22 years.

Last year at this time, Bell said the river looked completely different.

"I myself had several areas under water, under 10-12 feet of river water," said Bell.

He said the water stayed that way for months.

Last July the river reached 27.6 feet, which is its second-deepest level in recorded history. That makes the current depth 20 feet lower than a year ago.

Having seen both extremes, Bell said this year's problem is much worse.

"This drought extends just not from the river, but it's all over and it affects farmers everywhere. Affects agriculture and that's the name of the game in this part of Missouri," Bell said.

The National Weather Service's river forecast predicts levels will gradually rise in the coming days at Napoleon.

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