The Mississippi River was effectively closed to barge traffic from northern Iowa to St. Louis as flooding shuttered several locks on the major shipping waterway and stranded at least 70 barges, the U.S. Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers said.
The Coast Guard officially closed the busy Port of St. Louis from mile markers 179 to 184 due to high water and warned mariners about increased debris in the river.
The second wave of spring flooding to hit the Midwest comes just five months after near record low water on the Mississippi River threatened to halt barge shipping earlier this year.
The latest lock closures, some of which could remain in place until next week, choked off the flow of grain barges from Midwest farm areas to export terminals on the Gulf Coast, where about 60 percent of all U.S. grain exports exit the country.
Numerous grain elevators along the rivers were also unable to load barges as the vessels could not fit below loading spouts due to the river’s higher level.