Market Matters Blog

Flooding on Minnesota, Mississippi Rivers Stalls Barge Movements

Mary Kennedy
By  Mary Kennedy , DTN Basis Analyst
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Extreme flooding on the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, forced the river to close for barge traffic there and in its tributary, the Minnesota River. (DTN photo by Mary Kennedy)

The Mighty Mississippi is living up to its name as floodwaters rose in St. Paul, Minnesota, to a crest in its top 10 highest on record. Besides all the rain that has fallen in Minnesota the past month, the swollen Minnesota River also added to the high water in downtown St. Paul.

The Minnesota River is a tributary of the Mississippi River and rises in southwestern Minnesota, in Big Stone Lake on the Minnesota-South Dakota border just south of the Laurentian Divide at the Traverse Gap portage, according to Wikipedia. It flows southeast to Mankato, then turns northeast, joining the Mississippi at Mendota, Minnesota, south of the Twin Cities near Fort Snelling.

Along the way to St. Paul, the Minnesota River crested near a record high in Chaska, Minnesota, and in the top five highest crests in Savage, Minnesota. Savage is home to four grain elevators.

Another large tributary that meets the Mississippi and added more water is the St. Croix River in Wisconsin/Minnesota. The St. Croix meets the Mississippi River about 20 miles southeast of St. Paul near Hastings, Minnesota, Lock and Dam 2. The St. Croix at Stillwater, Minnesota, is expected to crest on July 1 at 88.06 feet, just below major flood stage of 89 feet.

Over the weekend, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced on Facebook, "We closed Lock 3 on the Mississippi River, located upstream of Red Wing, Minnesota, to all traffic until further notice due to high flows over 125,000 cubic feet per second. It is anticipated the lock will reopen July 4, but it is weather dependent."

As of July 1, the river in St. Paul is still in major flood stage at 19.01 feet and at Red Wing the river is at major flood stage of 16.19 feet and not forecast to crest until midweek. The St. Paul harbor will not reopen for traffic until the river falls below 14 feet.

The USACE Rock Island noted on their website that Lock and Dam 14 is closed due to flooding. Lock and Dam 16 and Lock and Dam 17 are anticipated to close July 2; Lock and Dam 13 is anticipated to close July 4; and Lock and Dam 18 is anticipated to close on July 6.

According to the National Weather Service Twin Cities/Chanhassen, Minnesota, more rain is expected in the upcoming week in St. Paul, and the NWS Quad Cities notes the same for Rock Island, Illinois. Even though the Mississippi River has crested in St. Paul, the crest at Lock and Dam 15, Rock Island is not forecast until July 6. Any more rain in the Minnesota and/or Mississippi/St. Croix Rivers could exacerbate the flooding.

"The current flooding serves as an additional reminder that weather events have an impact on the ability to grow a crop but also the ability to transport that crop," said Executive Director of the Soy Transportation Coalition Mike Steenhoek. "While the main export window for soybeans is between September and February, considerable soybeans and grain continue to move during this time of the year."

The good news is this isn't happening during harvest. The bad news is farmers who haul to river terminals affected by flooding will be unable to move their old crop until the river reopens and barges can once again move.

Link to Mississippi river forecasts:…

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