Prepared by Tom Russell of Russell Marine Group. www.rmgcal.com
Low water levels remain a concern for the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois River in particular. Recent rains have helped to stabilize and provide some improvement but the situation still requires monitoring.
The Ohio River and Lower Mississippi Rivers are low but showing continuing improvement. The Ohio River is main water supply source for the Lower Mississippi River.
The entire system is low but barge traffic is moving unrestricted with max drafts on all rivers. Barge traffic is extremely heavy moving grain to the Gulf.
The Ohio River and Lower Mississippi Rivers should be fine as we move into Dec and Jan. Fog season is approaching for southern areas of the Lower Miss which could create slight delays.
The Upper Miss and Illinois Rivers have a couple of points of concern during next few months.
The Missouri River flow that helps feed the Upper Miss area at St Louis will be closed off for the winter. This will put pressure on present low water levels. Also, phase 2 of the rock removal that started last year is scheduled to resume in December south of St Louis. The Corps of Engineers and contractor are now indicating some tow size and traffic restrictions may be necessary. This could create unforeseen delays for barges moving out of the Midwest.
The industry has requested for any potential restrictions be delayed until harvest season and barge traffic subsides. The is waiting for reply from the Corp and contractor.
The Midwest is predicted to have a very cold winter. Cold temperatures coupled with low water could create icing problems on the other side of new year. This is not a concern right now but a situation that should be watched over coming months.
The Baton Rouge and New Orleans harbors are in good shape. Fog may create short delays but otherwise barge and ocean vessel traffic is fine.
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