Heavy rain good news for barge traffic, farmers

By Mark Bullion

March 11, 2013 Updated Mar 11, 2013 at 10:58 PM CDT

CENTRAL ILLINOIS -- Standing water, ditches overflowing, gutters still draining and now the Illinois River is under a flood warning.

It was pretty much non-stop rain this past weekend but it was much needed, especially for barges which can now load at full capacity.

"If they're connecting further south along the Mississippi River down to the Gulf Coast, that's been the real problem area and fortunately they got a bunch of rain, in fact, they got more than we did," said Steve Jaeger, TRANSport Authority Executive Director.

Jaeger said that only means one thing.

"Barge traffic at least for the next couple weeks will be able to move unimpeded through the river system between the Illinois and the Mississippi Rivers so from a commercial standpoint it's all good."

What is also "all good" is the rainfall, snow pack and mild temperatures for farmers.

"With the lack of the real cold below zero temperatures throughout the winter, and the fact that the frost level has been pretty variable throughout the winter but we really haven't seen much frost on the ground as of late. All that water is soaking right into the ground and that's good news," said Chris Miller, National Weather Service Meteorologist.

That has been the trend this past winter, with more rain than snow in the past couple of months. That is another positive sign for farmers and also a positive sign that a big dent has been made in last year's drought.

"There's water running through field tiles, ditches are starting to hold some water, creeks and rivers are coming up," said Miller.

Miller anticipates some more light rain this coming weekend and also said it is looking like it will be a relatively wet spring.

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