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Shipping boats will appear later than normal on Mississippi

RED WING - The first spring shipping boats will appear later than normal on the Mississippi River in western Wisconsin.

On average, March 20th is the first day that boats can muscle their way through the season's final ice, and head north past Prescott into Minnesota. But the Army Corps of Engineers says this year's ice is still too thick, and spokesman Patrick Moes says it's hard to predict when shipping can begin.

The Corps' official ice measurements are on Lake Pepin just south of Red Wing. The most recent measurements came last Wednesday. Some of the lake's two dozen measuring spots were clear of ice -- but the others averaged around two feet. Moes says the ice needs to be 8-to-12 inches before the toughest towboats can maneuver up-stream. Shippers can get the latest data on the Army Corps' Web site.

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