Dubuque's Ice Harbor closed for 45 days now due to flood - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque's Ice Harbor closed for 45 days now due to flood

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The Spirit of Dubuque is docked outside the Ice Harbor Friday afternoon as customers board The Spirit of Dubuque is docked outside the Ice Harbor Friday afternoon as customers board

Recent heavy and widespread rains in Minnesota are causing the Mississippi River to rise.

The Ice Harbor sits just off the Mississippi River in the Port of Dubuque. The city of Dubuque closes the Ice Harbor gates when the river reaches 16 feet and the National Weather Service predicts it will continue to rise to at least 17 feet. It does that to keep downtown Dubuque from flooding.

2014 has been a tough year for businesses in the Ice Harbor that rely on boat traffic.

Dubuque's street and sewer maintenance supervisor John Klostermann said the city has closed the Ice Harbor gates twice now this year. The first closure lasted 38 days straight, stretching from April 21 into late May. The second closure happened a week ago, bringing the total number of days the Ice Harbor has been shut off from river traffic to 45, as of Friday.

Walt and Nancy Webster own Dubuque River Rides, an Ice Harbor-based company of 21 years that provides tours of the Mississippi River on a replica steamboat and yacht.

When the Ice Harbor gates close, the business can dock its boats outside the harbor and continue operating.

Nobody expected the first closure to last 38 days, however, and Dubuque River Rides didn't bring either of its boats out in late April, before the city closed the gates.

"We had basically no income in May because everything was locked up," Walt Webster said Friday afternoon. "Now, at least we got one boat out, so we're able to keep going."

The Spirit of Dubuque is the company's century-old replica steamboat and is outside the Ice Harbor for this second closure.

In other words, Dubuque River Rides is cruising and open for business.

"The passenger business has been a little light because of the high water, because of all the news from Minneapolis and it still hasn't crested up there yet, I understand, but the boats float, so we're still on top of the water," Webster said.

The company's other boat, a motor yacht called the Miss Dubuque, is still in the Ice Harbor.

"We hope, if it goes like the last few years, once it quits raining - and it's generally been by the first week of July or the second week - it's quick and the river really starts to drop again," Webster said. "We're thinking it's going to be after the 11th of July before we're actually back in the harbor."

Klostermann said the city will re-open the Ice Harbor gates once the river drops to 16.5 feet and the National Weather Service doesn't predict another rise.

On Friday afternoon, the river was at 17.58 feet.

As of Friday evening, the National Weather service was only forecasting river stages through July 4, and it shows the level in Dubuque hitting a high of 18.1 feet on Tuesday and maintaining that through the end of the week. The latest forecasts on Mississippi River levels throughout eastern Iowa are HERE: http://1.usa.gov/TqFGZ1

Information on when Dubuque River Rides is HERE: http://dubuqueriverrides.com/home/1875154

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