The U.S. Coast Guard has issued a safety advisory for a 24-mile stretch of the upper-Mississippi River near St. Louis due to high water conditions. From mile marker 160, near the mouth of the Meramec River south
of St. Louis to mile marker 184 near St. Louis, vessels were advised against downstreaming operations. The advisory may become mandatory later on Tuesday if water levels keep rising.
Downstreaming is a barge fleeting procedure where a towboat approaches a barge fleet from upstream. This procedure is dangerous during high water conditions or when the current is strong, and has resulted in a number of fatalities and vessel incidents in the past. The St. Louis gauge read 24.8 on Tuesday morning. River officials expected water levels to reach 27 feet by Wednesday and 27.7 feet on Thursday before slipping on Friday to 27.5 feet. "Once water levels reach 25 feet, which is expected sometime today, the Coast Guard can change the advisory and require vessels to comply," said Lt. Chris O'Neil
, U.S. Coast Guard spokesman
. The advisory will stay in effect until the St. Louis river gauge drops below 20 feet. - (Reuters)