I don’t know about you but for me the past couple of weeks have felt like we have been on a bit of a roller-coaster with our temperatures, going from overnight lows in the single digits to highs in the upper 40s.
While the last few days probably felt amazing, its major temperature swings like the ones we have seen over the past few days can lead to ice jams.
When we go from temperatures that are well below freezing to way above normal, we start to crack and melt the ice that was previously able to develop over the river.
It’s not only major temperature swings but also a lot of rain that can help form ice jams.
Normally we see this in the spring months, but it can also happen when we see a mid-winter thaw. We get that snow to melt and sometimes see the ice break up and that’s when we can see an increased risk for ice jams to form.
So, let’s say in this scenario that we get a major warm-up with our temperatures, or we get a lot of rain in the area. What happens is we start to have that ice break up into chunks, and we start to see an ice flow form. Those ice flows, if strong enough, can damage docks and bridges, and well anything that can disrupt the natural flow of the river. But if these ice chunks were to get jammed up against something – like a bridge or a section of a river that bends – that is when we begin to see a problem.
Because now that water has nowhere to go, it builds upstream of that ice jam causing areas to flood. This is a problem enough, but then think about what happens when that ice jam breaks. All of that water now heads downstream and cause those areas to flood as well. So an ice jam is kind of like burning the candle at both ends.
The good news with our forecast, however, is that even though we saw that large increase in temperatures everything looks to be a bit more moderate as we move forward, and on top of that it looks like there are no major flooding chances for most rivers in the area.