High Water Forces Lock Closures

Monday, April 23, 2001
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will close additional locks on the upper Mississippi River north of St. Louis beginning on Monday (April 23) due to rising water levels, Army Corps officials said. Lock 22 near Hannibal, Mo., about 150 miles north of St. Louis, was scheduled to close on Monday afternoon and Lock 21 near Quincy, Ill., will close on Tuesday.

The Army Corps had closed Lock 20 at Canton, Mo., over the weekend but was keeping Lock 19 near Keokuk, Ia., open for local traffic. So all locks from Canton north to Minnespolis, except Keokuk, were now closed to traffic due to high water. The latest lock closures are north of the confluence of the Illinois River, where barge traffic remains unaffected by the flood conditions on the upper Mississippi. On April 16, the Coast Guard closed a 403-mile stretch of the upper Mississippi from Muscatine, Ia., north to Minneapolis, to marine traffic, blocking all barge movements due to the high water. That move affected 300 barges and 50 tows north of Muscatine, mostly grain barges, officials said. There are no immediate plans to reopen the area, river officials said Monday.

"The river was expected to stay closed -- the river is high in that section and not significantly receding," said U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Jeff Hall. The Mississippi River was forecast to crest in Davenport, Ia., near 22-ft. (6.7 m) late Tuesday, about 7 ft. (210 cm) above flood stage and close to the record 22.63 ft. (6.9 m) set in 1993. The U.S. Coast Guard sent an additional disaster response unit to Davenport early Monday. "The next area of cresting concern is Keokuk. After Keokuk the river widens out," Hall said. Monday's National Weather Service forecast predicted the river to crest at 20 to 21 ft. (6.1 to 6.4 m), about 4 ft. (120 cm) over flood stage in Keokuk by Thursday. Weekend rains added to water levels with 1.5 to 4.5 inches falling in southern Minnesota, southeastern South Dakota, northwestern Iowa and northeastern Nebraska, said Weather Services Corp. meteorologist Mike Palmerino. "It appears the worst is over with drier weather forecast for the northern parts of the Midwest at least through Saturday," Palmerino said.

Lingering showers and light snow were predicted to add less than 0.1 inch on Monday. Wednesday and Thursday are expected to be dry and some light showers are forecast for Friday with less than 0.25 inch expected. - (Reuters)

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