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Upper Mississippi River Shipping Season Opens

March 22, 2024   Grain Transportation Report (U.S. Department of Agriculture)

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On March 17, a tow with 12 barges moved through Lock and Dam 2 in Hastings, MN, opening the Upper Mississippi River to shipping after its cyclic winter shutdown. In winter, the Upper Mississippi River closes to barge traffic because of cold weather and icy conditions.


As the widest location on the river, Lake Pepin also has the slowest current, so its ice is typically the last to break up.


This year, unusually warm weather prompted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to cancel the annual Lake Pepin survey in February.

Despite the warm weather, however, the locks remained closed for winter maintenance that was completed on March 15. The average start date for the navigation season is March 22, and the earliest has been March 4, in 1983, 1984, and 2000.