Market News & Headlines >> Midwest River System Conditions Improving

After weeks of delays to vessel traffic, conditions are now improving on the Midwest river system with flood waters receding in recent days allowing a slow pickup in barge traffic to the U.S. Gulf. 

On the upper Mississippi River, river locks north of St. Louis are reopening after lengthy flooding-related closures.  "After a record breaking 92 consecutive days, the roller dams at Locks & Dam 15 in Rock Island, Illinois, were lowered back into the water over the weekend," the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Rock Island District tweeted on Tuesday. 

On Wednesday, the District tweeted that the Mississippi River had dropped below flood stage at Locks & Dam 15 after a record 96 days above flood stage and added that all locks within the district are back open. 

The Upper Mississippi is open from mile 0 to 179 as the Cape Girardeau, Missouri gage is now below 45 feet, barge sources told Reuters News Service on Tuesday. The lock and dam at Clarksville, Missouri, also opened on Tuesday, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

Meanwhile, futures exchange operator CME Group Inc. said in a statement Tuesday that it had lifted force majeure, effective immediately, at corn and soybean shipping stations on the Illinois River and the Mississippi River, because most stations had regained the ability to load. 

The exchange had declared force majeure at the shipping stations on May 2 because a majority of the facilities were unable to load barges with corn and soy due to high water and/or flooding. 

However, flooding issues appear to be moving eastward. Sharply rising water on the lower Ohio River following heavy storms this week could temporarily impede barge loading at some elevators along that river, a trader told Reuters on Tuesday. Elevators on the Ohio River have been actively loading grain barges this spring amid the closures on the Illinois and upper Mississippi Rivers.