Flooding: Coast Guard closes Mississippi River to vessels 

Coast Guard closes Mississippi River to vessels 

The U.S. Coast Guard has closed a portion of the Mississippi River to all vessel traffic after the river broke a quarter-century flooding record at Rock Island, Illinois. 

The previous flooding record was set in June 1993 when the upper Mississippi and Missouri Rivers broke their banks, inundating the Midwest countryside.

Water levels in the river rose 7.7 feet (2.3 meters) above flood stage as of 8 a.m. local time on Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

The flooding is, however, seen as a fairly isolated event as long as rain eases.

While the Mississippi is high now and the region has had a lot of rain and snow in the last few months, in 1993 “we had rain after rain after rain throughout the spring and summer,’’ said Justin Palmer, a hydrologist with the U.S. North Central River Forecast Center in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

“It is kind of a one-off right now,’’ Palmer said. “But the potential is there as we get more rain for the river to stay high. We are definitely vulnerable to a rain event.’’

About 1.5 to 2 inches of rain is forecast to fall across Iowa and Illinois through May 10, the U.S. Weather Prediction Center said. From January to March, much of the Midwest have had among their top 10 rainy and snowiest seasons.

Since Jan. 1 through Thursday, 15.1 inches of rain fell in Davenport, Iowa, across the river from Rock Island.

High water on the Mississippi has persisted for months, slowing shipments of grain, fuel and chemicals. CME Group Inc., owner of the Chicago Board of Trade, declared force majeure due to load-out impossibility at a majority of corn and soybean regular shipping stations on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. 

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