ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Despite dire predictions for much of November and December, recent rains have eased fears of a complete shutdown on the Mississippi River, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday.
“Every little bit of rain helps a lot right now,” Army Corps Public Affairs Specialist Mike Peterson said. “In fact, right now we’re looking at St. Louis coming up by at least five feet over the next few days because of the rains we’ve been getting.”
There had been concern that barge traffic would grind to a halt due to an ongoing drought, widely considered by experts to be the worst in decades. Barge organizations warned that the drought would rob the Mississippi River of its nine-foot navigation channel.
“We’ve kept that channel open and we haven’t had a single grounding in the channel this year, despite some record lows,” Peterson said. “We’ve won some battles but the campaign isn’t over. This is year one of a drought so we want to make sure we can prepare that channel to be as reliable and resilient as possible.”
Some barge operators had estimated that unless the area received precipitation or the Corps released more water into the system, barge traffic on the Mississippi would come to a halt by mid-January.