High water has stopped traffic in the St. Louis area where the Mississippi River was at 40.49’ — 10′ above flood stage — and closed 10 locks and dams on the Mississippi and a tributary.
The U.S. Coast Guard Monday closed the Mississippi to all traffic from mile markers 179 to 184 near St. Louis harbor. Fleet vessels were allowed to operate. Southbound trips were discouraged unless a vessel was at least 75′ in length and had a minimum 1,800 hp.
“There’s tons of trees, and it’s very fast,” said Mike Petersen, spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Louis.
The Corps has closed locks and dams 17, New Boston, Ill.; 18, Gladstone, Ill.; 20, Canton, Mo.; 21, Quincy, Ill.; 22, Saverton, Mo.; 24, Clarksville, Mo.; 25, Winfield, Mo.; and 27, (Chain of Rocks), Granite City, Ill.; and on the Kaskaskia River, and was expected to close lock 16 at Muscatine, Iowa, Tuesday afternoon.
Depending on the weather, some were expected to reopen over the weekend or early next week.
Ingram Barge Co. was anticipating the closures, so it was able to adjust cargo shipments, said spokesman Elizabeth Fielding. “Hopefully, this will not have a huge impact. They are staying in touch with their customers on a daily basis.”
At least 70 barges were backed up on the Upper Mississippi on Monday, according to published reports. An American Waterways Operators’ spokesman did not have firm numbers on the tows affected.
“Right now, everybody’s kind of waiting,” Coast Guard spokesman Ryan Christiansen said Tuesday.
In April, high water ripped 114 barges loose at the Port of St. Louis and closed the Mississippi between miles 170 and 155. The situation was in sharp contrast to last year’s drought that cost the industry millions because of light-loading, restricted tow sizes, longer transit times and fluctuating rates. The dry spell followed 2011’s disastrous floods.