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Ice means lower levels in Mississippi River, trouble moving barges

ST. LOUIS – It’s so cold here and in states to our north that barges aren’t the only thing floating down the Mississippi River.

The ice is getting a lot of attention from passersby, but the US Coast Guard has their eyes on it for another reason.

According to Lt. Commander Kristine Neeley, US Coast Guard, the ice is contributing to lower water levels on the river. Those low water levels could have a big impact on commerce, because vessels will have a harder time transporting goods like grain fuel and salt.

When the levels get too low, the US Coast Guard has to shut down the St Louis port. At present, the Coast Guard has activated its “action phase,” which means the water level just hit negative 2 feet on the gauge. When the gauge reaches negative 3.5 feet, travel for vessels becomes too hazardous and they must shut down the port. At the moment, the Coast Guard is having discussions with vessels traveling the river.

“We’ll discuss things like how’s it going out there, are you transiting safely, is anybody bumping bottom, are there some fleets poking out into the river?” Neeley said.

They said icy conditions from states up north are contributing to the low water levels and ice you see on the Mississippi River.