Thursday, December 31, 2015

Flooding disrupts Mississippi River system transportation; barge tows limited, bridges closed

U.S. Geological Survey map via DTN; click it for larger version
"Massive flooding, which usually occurs in spring, is plaguing the entire U.S. river system this winter," especially the Mississippi and its tributaries, Mary Kennedy reports for DTN/The Progressive Farmer. "That heavy precipitation has pushed the nation's main river system above flood stage, creating a mess for shippers. As of Dec. 30, the St. Louis harbor was closed."

Tom Russell of New Orleans-based Russell Marine Group told Kennedy, "Lower Mississippi River from Cairo to New Orleans is open but either at or will soon be at flood levels as water flushes through. Expect continued slow going logistics throughout the system. Fleets in St. Louis and Cairo are at max capacity. Tow sizes will be restricted to equivalent of 280 horsepower-per-barge-to-tow ratio. This is the first time I have seen such hp restriction."

Kennedy's report includes a rundown of most the major tributaries of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. To read it, click here. The flooding has also prompted the closing of bridges, some major, such as US 51 over the Ohio between Cairo, Ill., and Wickliffe, Ky.

"Flooding on the middle and lower portion of the Mississippi River and some of its tributaries may reach levels not seen during the winter months since records began during the middle 1800s," says AccuWeather senior meterologist Alex Sosnowski.

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