Floods slow Ohio River barge traffic

During the first week of March, heavy rain followed by rapid snow melt has caused significant flooding on portions of the Ohio River. Barge operators have indicated a reduced demand for barge services as high water has limited barge activities, according to the Grain Transportation Report.

Flood levels at Cairo, Ill., where the Ohio flows into the lower Mississippi River, are expected to crest at 46′ — 6′ above flood stage — by March 19. Higher river flows will also impact the lower Mississippi River. At Memphis, Tenn., Mississippi River levels are expected to crest at 30′ — 4′ below flood stage — by March 22, according to the USDA.

For the week ending March 9, the U.S. average diesel price of $2.94 per gallon was unchanged from the previous week, but had increased by 11 cents since the week ending February 2, according to the USDA Grain Transportation Report. However, the prices are still $1.08 below the same period a year ago. According to Energy Information Administration, the U.S. average gasoline prices have risen because of rising crude oil prices and several outages at West Coast refineries.

During the week ending March 7, barge grain movements totaled 514,404 tons —10% higher than the previous week and 2% lower than the same period last year. During the week ending March 7, 319 grain barges moved down river, up 19% from last week; 521 grain barges were unloaded in New Orleans, down 29% from the previous week, according to the Grain Transportation Report.

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