* CHS, CN rail halted operations Wed after heavy rains
* Rains to ease over the next few days
By Christine Stebbins
CHICAGO, June 21 (Reuters) - Port and rail operations for grain shipping were beginning to return to normal in the upper U.S. Midwest on Thursday after heavy rains drenched the region this week, shippers said.
Major exporter CHS Inc said on Thursday it resumed grain loading operations at its Superior, Wisconsin terminal, a day after it halted loadings.
“Our Superior, Wisconsin, export terminal is back up and operating normally today,” CHS spokeswoman Lani Jordan said.
The CHS facility is the largest grain terminal at the port with a storage capacity of 18 million bushels, according to the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.
The port, an export gateway on the western shore of Lake Superior that feeds into the St. Lawrence Seaway, spans the cities of Superior, Wisconsin, and Duluth, Minnesota.
Canadian National Railway plans to reopen some of its freight lines across Minnesota and northern Wisconsin this afternoon, said CN spokesman Patrick Waldron.
The railway runs about 25 trains a day across those lines, carrying bulk commodities including grains. They were shut on Wednesday after track washouts.
“Affected areas along the Iron Range, Rainy, and Superior and Two Harbors subdivisions will return to service between 1500 hours and 1800 hours CDT on Thursday,” CN posted on its web site. “The southern portion of the Missabe subdivision is due to resume operations as of approximately 1800 hours CDT on Friday.”
Waldron said those were targeted times. Heavy rains of 5 to 9 inches fell late Tuesday into Wednesday in the Duluth area, causing the worst flooding the city had seen in four decades, officials said on Wednesday.
The rains were forecast to ease this week with a only a slight chance of rains over the next five days.
“Tomorrow there is a chance for some very light showers, maybe a quarter inch,” said Joel Widenor, meteorologist with Commodity Weather Group.
“There is another chance on Saturday night for light showers -- but the models are not picking up anything heavier than that over the next five days,” he added.