(Repeats to clarify gasoline in headline. No changes to
* Mississippi River crests at near-record 48 ft in Memphis
* Floods wash out 3 mln acres cropland, hits rice hard
* Gasoline prices jump on fears refiners in path
By Karl Plume and John Branston
CHICAGO/MEMPHIS, Tenn., May 10 Rising
floodwaters on the Mississippi River have displaced thousands
of residents and flooded 3 million acres of farmland as it
surges past Memphis to the U.S. Gulf Coast, where it threatens
to disrupt 10 oil refineries in Louisiana.
Gasoline prices RBc1 jumped by more than 2 percent in New
York on Tuesday as traders speculated that the massive flooding
from heavy spring rains and snow melt could disrupt refineries
on southern stretches of the Mississippi in the next two
The refineries threatened by the flooding account for 14
percent of U.S. refined gasoline capacity. Pump prices in the
United States already have topped $4 a gallon in many states,
stretching consumer budgets.
The floods threatened to postpone or cancel planting of
rice on 300,000 acres in Arkansas, amounting to 10 percent of
the total rice acreage in the United States, the world's
third-largest exporter of the grain.
While only about 1 percent of agricultural land planted
with major crops in the United States has been affected, the
loss comes on top of dwindling U.S. grain stockpiles, weather
woes in other agricultural exporting nations and rising demand,
all of which have sent grain prices up steeply.
The United States' largest river system, a transportation
artery that cuts 2,320 miles (3,734 km) through America's
heartland to the Gulf of Mexico, crested at 47.87 feet (14.6
meters) in Memphis on Tuesday, the National Weather Service
The historic downtown of the country and blues music capital
was spared from major damage as the wall of water headed
southward toward the Gulf of Mexico.
The U.S. government prepared to open a second spillway in
Louisiana to divert waters and ease flows at New Orleans and
Baton Rouge. The action will interrupt crude oil shipments to
one small refinery.
"They don't call it the Mighty Mississippi for nothing,"
said Steve Shular, spokesman for the Shelby County Office of
Preparedness in Tennessee.
Barge traffic is moving along the river although some
restrictions have been applied to some sections based on size,
speed and motor power of barges, the U.S. Coast Guard said
Tuesday. The Mississippi is a major shipping route to the port
of New Orleans.
(Additional reporting by Tim Ghianni in Nashville, Selam
Gebrekidan in New York; Writing by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by
Greg McCune and Lisa Shumaker)