Pepin ice still much too thick for bargesWith portions of Lake Pepin still covered by 27 inches of ice, it may be a while before the shipping season opens on the upper Mississippi River.
By: Brady Bautch, The Republican Eagle
With portions of Lake Pepin still covered by 27 inches of ice, it may be a while before the shipping season opens on the upper Mississippi River.
Ice measurements taken Thursday show that areas of the lake near Lake City still have 22 to 27 inches of ice.
“Tow operating companies tell us that they like to see 12 inches of ice or less before they’ll try to push through,” said Mark Davidson, a spokesman for the St. Paul District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Despite temperatures above freezing the last couple of weeks, the ice is not melting quickly.
“One of the problems is that the last couple of weeks the nighttime temperatures have gone below freezing, which causes refreezing,” Davidson said.
In 2007, the first barge passed through the area on March 20.
Davidson says the next ice measurements are scheduled for next Wednesday.
The latest that the shipping season has opened was May 11 in 2001, according to Stephen Soules, a spokesman for Upper River Services in St. Paul. He said ice on Lake Pepin and high river waters that year caused the late start.
Davidson hopes the expected warm weather this weekend will help bring the ice down, but even then there may not be any barges coming through.
The first barge of the year on the upper river made its way to Winona on March 30. However, according to Soules, there still aren’t any barges on the river scheduled to come up to St. Paul.