Awareness: The Lower Mississippi River

Norwegian Hull Club is informing its valued clients of its capacity and readiness to offer assistance – in the run up to Mardi Gras weekend and beyond - with regard to the present “extreme river” status of the Lower Mississippi River.

Unusually high water levels and strong currents are forecast to last well into April. As a result of large volumes of runoff from melting snow and rainstorms experienced in late February through early April, the Mississippi annually swells to approximately 15 feet on the Carrollton Gauge, instead of its usual 5-6 feet. During such swells, the river’s current increases to approximately 4 -5 knots. This compares to a May-to-December norm of some 1-2 knots.


Norwegian Hull Club’s long-time legal partner in New Orleans is Admiralty Lawyer & Mediator Michael Butterworth, who says that forecasts show that “this year the river will be above 15 feet from 25 February 2019 until the middle of April 2019 - for more than one month - and will crest at 17 feet between 18 March and 24 March 2019.”

He adds: “Once the Mississippi River rises above 12 feet on the Carrollton Gauge, producing a river current in the 3 – 4 knot range, usually in early February, we start to see more anchor loss and windlass breakdown problems. At some berths near big bends in the river where the current runs above average, deep draft vessels start to need hold in tugs to keep them alongside the wharf when their draft is more than 40 feet – even if they have put out every mooring hawser aboard to every wharf bollard or anchor buoy they can reach.”


Vessel groundings are more frequent also, often due to charterers loading their craft a few feet deeper than usual due to the higher water levels. Additionally, any mechanical issues or breakdowns are much more likely to have serious repercussions in such conditions, which The Club urges all vessel crews to bear in mind.


The Club has agreements in place with leading global salvage companies and has collated a comprehensive overview of their available resources in the area. Their experts and vessels (including tugboats, FIFI-class AHTS and crane barges) are ready to provide assistance as required.

Norwegian Hull Club can be contacted when an incident occurs via our 24-hour emergency hotline on +47 22 42 88 44 (or +47 55 70 55 35 in case of network issues). Here, support will be provided by our experienced emergency response and claims specialists, working in conjunction with the rest of Norwegian Hull Club’s team of experts.

Go to our 24/7 emergency response details 

The latest observations and forecasts for the river can be found at the US National Weather Service website

1. Mar. 2019