Mississippi River conditions improving

Locks on the Upper Mississippi River are open and water levels have crested north of St. Louis.

Crests on the Lower Mississippi River will occur during the first half of May, but will not affect navigation, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The spring snowmelt and heavy rainfall is resulting in flooding on the Illinois River. The Illinois River crested on April 30, but floodwaters have been slow to recede because of the rain and backwater pressure at the confluence of the Illinois River with the flooded Mississippi River, according to the USDA. The upper Illinois River is closed at Marseilles, Ill., due to a damaged dam, which has closed the navigation channel. On the lower Illinois River, a section was closed because waves from the moving barges were reporting to have damaged levees. The lower Illinois River was reopened on May 1 with restrictions requiring tows to travel at minimum speeds with little or no wake. The Marseilles Lock is still closed.

The USDA says that heavy rain and snow is expected through Saturday throughout the Mississippi River watershed, possibly slowing the recovery.

During the week ending April 27, barge grain movements totaled 118,000 tons, 83 percent lower than the previous week and 81 percent lower than the same period last year. During the week ending April 27, 76 grain barges moved down river, down 57.3 percent from last week, and 278 grain barges were unloaded in New Orleans, down 26.5 percent from the previous week, according to the USDA.

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