By JIM SALTER and JIM SUHR
ST. LOUIS (AP) - A revised Mississippi River forecast is offering a bit of a reprieve for shippers, showing the water level isn't dropping as quickly as feared. Still, at least two large barge companies already are reducing loads over concerns about the river's depth.
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The river at St. Louis on Wednesday was about 13 feet deep. The Coast Guard has said further restrictions on barge traffic are likely if the river dips to around 9 feet, though the decision is based on observation of conditions and not the level on the gauge.
Earlier forecasts by the National Weather Service had projected getting to the 9-foot level by Sunday or Monday. But a Weather Service hydrologist told The Associated Press Wednesday that revised modeling now calls for reaching that level around Dec. 29.
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