The changing conditions with currents and shoaling during the period of high water can lead to loss of, fouled or entangled anchors, groundings and broken moorings.
The high water season in the Mississippi River is generally said to be between December and May with the highest water levels usually occurring between February and May. This four-month period is often incorrectly thought to be the only highwater season. However, episodes of high water, increased currents and shoaling can be experienced at many times of the year and are known to have sometimes occurred from January to August. Long term forecasts for the area may be inaccurate as huge land areas drain into the river and heavy precipitation and snow melt in Spring may lead to rapid changes in the water levels.
During 2019 the Mississippi River saw high water levels until August. The water levels so far in 2020 appear to follow a similar pattern to 2019. Gard saw a number of incidents involving loss of anchors, entangled anchors, groundings and broken moorings in the Mississippi River area during the high-water period last year.
High water, strong currents and shoaling can cause delays and result in extra costs as a result of damage to anchors and mooring equipment, draft and navigation restrictions, extra tugs and pilot assistance, and difficult mooring and anchoring conditions. There may be considerable additional expenses if extra tugs and pilot assistance are required.
Recommendations - be proactive
High water in the Mississippi River can be costly if ship operators are not prepared, with delays and damage to ship and equipment and the need to hire expensive assistance from tugs and pilot. Prudent and ample action is recommended should an incident develop as situations and costs may escalate quickly.
We are grateful to our correspondents in New Orleans, Fernandes Maritime Consultants, and our correspondents, Independent Maritime Consulting, for the information received.