Lingering effects of winter causing problems for shipping on Great Lakes

CREATED Apr 16, 2014

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MILWAUKEE - The shipping season is off to a slow start on the Great Lakes.

"It's been a horrible start up to navigation," said Glen Nekvasil, Vice President of the Lake Carriers Association. "We have not been able to move much cargo."

According to the National Weather Service, as of Tuesday, 39 percent of the Great Lakes were still covered in ice.

"We had only 23 of our ships in service as of April 1; normally we would've had about 40," Nekvasil said. "This is the worst ice we've seen since the winter of '93-'94."

There is ice on all five Great Lakes, but the worst of it is on Lake Superior, where U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers are still leading convoys of ships to ports.

"It's going to take more than just a couple of warmer days and a little rain to break this ice up," Nekvasil said. "We will be convoying vessels, I would assume, for several more days and we'll going to need icebreaking probably for several more weeks. Who knows, maybe even into May".