LA CROSSE, Wis. — Some Mississippi River shipping ports remain closed with a record amount of ice lingering longer than usual.
Ice on Lake Pepin in western Wisconsin is the last major obstacle for ships headed to Minneapolis. The lake is still coated with more than 2 feet of ice, the La Crosse Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1dsgCL5) Tuesday.
That's nearly double the average and the most since the Army Corps of Engineers began measuring the ice in 1998. Ships can generally break through a foot or so of ice.
"I think it's going to be a while yet," said Kent Pehler, chief operating officer for Brennan Marine, which provides barge fleeting services at the port of La Crosse. "It's been a long winter for all of us."
On average, ships are in the La Crosse area by March 22 in the last decade. The latest start to a shipping season was April 7, 1978. But ships that typically pass through the area by this time are still much further south this year, in Iowa.
Dubuque, Iowa, also is reporting ice much thicker than normal, at around 20 inches last week.
"I don't ever recall that much ice in Dubuque," Pehler said.
The delayed thaw means some construction companies have had to make other plans for sending materials through the Midwest.