Problems Adding Up: Saltwater is slowing down Mississippi River traffic

Shipping issues continue on the Mississippi River.
Low water levels have forced shippers to use smaller tows, sending costs skyrocketing for ag exporters.

The Russell Marine Group says that any traffic that is moving is usually just in one direction at a time and there have been closures at several spots along the river, especially down south.

The low river bed is also letting more saltwater into the Mississippi and that is slowing barges down further.
The Gulf’s saltwater will flow upstream, against the less dense river freshwater, forming a wedge that is more difficult for ships to cut through.

USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey points out a troublesome spot on the north part of the river.
“Memphis, which is a key point there that lies in the northern part of the Mississippi Delta, the current stage for the Mississippi River at Memphis is 13 feet below what’s considered to be a low stage at Memphis, Tennessee. Less than 3 feet from the all-time record low level for the Mississippi River at Memphis, that was set back during the drought of 1988. So again, the current stage is getting very close to some of these all-time record low levels,” Rippey explains.

This is having major implications for getting harvested corn and soybeans out of the Midwest.

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