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CNN10 2022-11-07

CNN 10

The Mississippi River Is At Historically Low Levels From Illinois To Louisiana; Artemis 1 Rocket Heads Back to the Pad. Aired 4-4:10a ET

Aired November 07, 2022 - 04:00 ET


COY WIRE, CNN 10 ANCHOR: It is Monday and it's going to be the best day because it's the next day. I'm Coy, here with your news, some inspiration and a little bit of fun. Thanks for choosing us to help you start your week strong.

We begin today with news on the Mississippi River. This video shows the river at historically low levels from Illinois to Louisiana. Experts say the record low water levels are due to the worst drought in the central part of the United States in at least a decade and that we can expect to see continued decreasing levels in the months to come.

Lack of rain or snow over a period of time and atmospheric conditions such as temperature change and changes in the jet stream are all factors that can contribute to drought and low water levels. According to the U.S. drought monitor, half of the United States is covered by moderate drought conditions or worse, with more than 134 million people affected. That's the highest part of the population since 2016.

And the Midwest has seen the worst of it. Several inches of rain are possible over the next week near the Mississippi River which could provide some relief but the drought is forecast to continue through January and low water levels have some serious consequences. They could impact crops at a crucial time for harvest and allow for salt water from the Gulf of Mexico to travel up the Mississippi River which could potentially spoil Louisiana drinking water with salt.

And while the Army Corps of Engineers has been dredging or excavating portions of the river's basin to make a path for boat traffic to keep flowing. It's at such a slow pace, hundreds of barges and vessels carrying goods are waiting for the all-clear to be able to pass through the shallow river.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To navigate this river in the old South, a man would stand on the prowess steam ship and bounce a lead weight on a knotted string off the bottom. If it was a safe 12 feet deep, he'd shout "Mark Twain". Samuel Clemens made that his pen name, of course.

But if he wrote about this river today, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn would spend a lot of time walking on the beach because in too many places, the not so mighty Mississippi is a fraction of a Twain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to look at a few old steamboats, steamboat racks.

WEIR: Mark Twain era steamboats?


WEIR: And the relentless drought across the heartland is exposing all kinds of memories.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It may have caught on fire or sank 50 miles upstream and floated here during floods.

WEIR: As far as water levels go, this is as worse if you've ever seen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is about as low as I've seen it.

WEIR: From the Missouri down to New Orleans, accidental archaeologists are finding steamboat graveyards and human remains, Civil War ammo and forgotten shipwrecks.

And one of the more striking yardsticks is here in Baton Rouge. This is the USS Kidd, a World War II destroyer, and on a good year the Mississippi comes to that first rush strike, about 25 feet above my head right now.

And these water levels are so low creating such a catastrophic shipping crisis that this is going to affect your grocery bill, is the price of moving. A bushel of soybeans went up 300 percent and there are thousands of barges full of food and all they can do is just wait and pray for rain.

And if they can't get rain, they pray for help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got a difficult stretch of river.

WEIR: From the Army Corps of Engineers, with billions of dollars on the line, they cut channels as fast as they can with working antiques like the Dredge Potter. Built in 1932 but still a workhorse and an endless fight with the river in every kind of weather.

You're a professional riverbed redecorator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kind of, yeah, yeah.

WEIR: A little of this over here.


WEIR: Over there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As long as we can keep barges moving and keep commodities prices down, we're all in good shape.

WEIR: That's your -- that's your mission. It's impressive to see up front.

Andy, you know the Ole Miss better than most, huh? You've been doing this a while.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty-four years.


WEIR: And how would you characterize what's going on these days?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a concern, a heightened concern. I don't know that I -- we call it a panic yet, but we are watching the water levels very closely, on an almost an hourly basis.

WEIR: Is it the kind of thing where if this goes on you can dredge around the problem?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To a point. In 1989 and then again in 2012, we got to an area where the chan -- to a level where the channel was almost unsustainable. So we had numerous dredges working and there was very little commerce going through. And ultimately, what saved the day was rain.

WEIR: And these days, when you wish for rain, you have to specify not all at once. The Midwest is still recovering from summer flash floods. And if the water cycle whiplashes again, hard rain on parched earth would be another blow to farmers, already struggling to move their harvest.

Fewer and lighter barges on the river means more expensive trains and trucks putting more planet cooking pollution into Earth's system. And on a connected planet where one in eight humans eat something that was moved down the Mississippi, those hearty souls on the Dredge Potter are going to need a lot more help.

Bill Weir, CNN, Baton Rouge.



WIRE: Ten-second trivia:

What's the name of NASA's next mission to the moon?

Apollo, Artemis, Explorer, or Juno?

Artemis I is currently scheduled for an uncrewed test flight on November 14th.


WIRE: NASA's Artemis program hopes to return humans to the moon for the first time in half a century and the Artemis I mission hopes to test, to see if it's ready, to take real astronauts to the moon and back.

But everything from fuel leaks to hurricanes have already stalled the mission. Liftoff is now scheduled for November 14th and Artemis is back on the launch pad waiting for its big moment. But if you can't wait, there may be a way for you to get that moonwalking feeling right here on Earth.

A new invention from Shift Robotics aims to make walking faster and more efficient. But will they revolutionize the way we walk? That remains to be seen.


XUNJIE ZHANG, CEO, SHIFT ROBOTICS: Instead of replacing walking, what if we can augmenting or enhancing walking?

REPORTER: These are not roller skates, they are moonwalkers designed by Shift Robotics, a startup out of the robotics lab at Carnegie Mellon University.

ZHANG: I think the biggest problem is just the walking is too slow, it's super inefficient to get around by walking. So instead of replacing walking, what if we can you know augmenting or enhancing walking?

REPORTER: The company says these battery powered shoes can boost walking speeds up to seven miles an hour. Using a machine learning algorithm, Shift Robotics says the shoes can adapt to a user's walking pattern in real time.

ZHANG: You know, even though it has some elements of roller skate. You never freeloading, you just go -- they only move when you want to move.

REPORTER: Moonwalkers can fit most shoes with flexible straps that can be easily taken on and off with magnetic buckles. With speed limitation tech and braking systems the company claims the shoes are safe to use on on sidewalks or in crowded areas.

ZHANG: Outside the personal commuting or running errand scenes we think they're going to be great on distribution centers supermarket stores like warehouses for example where it's not fully automated but that still require lots of people walking around.

REPORTER: Shift Robotics also claims that users can walk over six miles after a single charge of an hour and a half.

The company says it will deliver the first batch of shoes to consumers in March 2023 at nearly fourteen hundred dollars.

ZHANG: I think at one day, you know, once we achieve economy scales, we will be able to drop the price we will be able to develop newer models that will allow us ultimately to drive the cost down.


WIRE: Today's story getting a 10 out of 10 is a hoot, a textbook example of parody by a parrot.

TV reporter Nicholas Crum was in Chile telling a story about rising crime rates when a parrot pulls off an impeccable heist stealing the headphone right out of his ear. He gone.

Crum, he needs to be more careful. He had someone else chase the thief for him so he could continue his report. Apparently, Crum suspected foul play.

Well, the whole thing was caught on camera and where it is, he did get his headphone back.

All right. Without feather ado, my favorite parrot of the day, I want to give a special shout out to West Side Middle School in Charleston, West Virginia. Thanks for subscribing and commenting on our YouTube channel for a shout out.

Let's aim to be a little better today than we were yesterday. Keep shining, lovely people.

I'm Coy and this is CNN 10. We'll see you tomorrow.