TULSA – Typically hundreds of thousands of tons of cargo move in and out of the port of Tulsa in Catoosa every month.
The port has had to suspend all inland waterway traffic due to the flooding crisis that has paralyzed parts of northeast Oklahoma, and Port Director David Yarbrough tells KRMG that it is unclear when they can resume operations.
While the harbor itself has seen the water level rise by around ten meters, it is located in what is known as a “slack water” area, which means that there is no current.
But the rivers in the area have far too much current; The fast flowing water is simply too dangerous for tugs and barges.
“It basically turns off navigation,” Yarbrough told KRMG. “We probably won’t have any navigable rivers for the next 30 days, and that’s when we stop getting rain.”
Unfortunately there is more rain in the forecast.
He said he can generally determine whether the rivers are navigable by checking the river in Van Buren, Arkansas.
“If the Van Buren ad reads 150,000 cubic feet per second or more, I know the navigation industry will likely be ready. You will not feel safe operating these boats. In the past few weeks we’ve exceeded half a million cubic feet per second with these gauges, and Muskogee had over 600,000. “
As soon as the rivers are navigable again, the port will try to reduce the residue.
“The effect on navigation once the system is reopened is that there are lots of barges waiting and everyone wants to move them as quickly as possible. As a result, the system will have a lot of traffic as it piles up at various locations waiting for the waterway to open, ”Yarbrough said. “So we’ll have a tough rest for the rest of the year.”