Earlier this year shippers feared that the worst drought in decades would slam the brakes on the billion dollar barge shipping industry, but recent heavy rains and snow have raised water levels on the drought starved Mississippi River.
Even though shippers are back to carrying normal loads, American Waterways Operators spokeswoman Ann McCulluh says the industry remains anxious about the future.
“You can bet that we will be watching the forecast, watching the water levels very carefully,” McCulluh said.
The winter storm that dumped several inches of snow and ice across much of Missouri may bring some short-term relief to the state’s drought conditions.
Kelly Smith is Director of Marketing and Commodities for the Missouri Farm Bureau. He says the winter storm arrived on the heels of recent rain events, helping saturate the soil.
“This snow is gonna slowly melt into the ground," Smith said. "We will get some runoff from it in some areas because they got a 10 to 13-inch snow…we had areas in our state as high as 13, maybe even 15, inches up in north of (the) Kansas City area.”