Ice Closes Illinois River

The arctic temperatures and icing that surged into the midsection of the country closed the Illinois River. Beginning February 8, American Commercial Barge Line notified its customers that it was suspending movement in the Illinois River “due to the developing ice conditions.”

The National Weather Service’s North Central River Forecast Center said in a February 9 statement, “After a few months of above average temperatures, the last week has seen a push of arctic air that has promoted ice formation on the Mississippi and Illinois riverways. Much of the Illinois riverway is experiencing some degree of ice formation.”

At Thomas J. O’Brien Lock and Dam, the Rock Island Engineer District reported the river was 100 percent covered with 6-inch-thick ice extending 5 miles upstream. At Marseilles Lock and Dam, there was 100 percent coverage of 4-inch-thick ice extending 3 miles upstream. 

The district said it would implement width restrictions at all locks that will drive tow size reduction down to six barges starting around February 11. “This will drive the industry off the river and cease river operations,” according to ACBL.

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