Rising temps prompts DNRC to warn of possible ice jam flooding

INDEPENDENT RECORD

Fluctuating temperatures across Montana have already resulted in ice jam flooding in some areas of the state and are raising concerns for potential flooding along other rivers and streams.

“We urge residents to be observant to rapidly changing conditions and prepare for the possibility of flooding,” said Traci Sears, the Montana National Flood Insurance Program coordinator at the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

A period of sub-zero temperatures followed by a rapid warm-up has caused ice jams. Ice jams – or dams – occur when chunks of ice clump together to block the flow of water on a river or stream. Ice jams and subsequent flooding are common this time of year through March when temperatures regularly fluctuate.

Additionally, ice jams occur during breakup when the weather starts to warm in the spring. As ice starts to melt and move, it can get trapped at bridges, bends, or narrower reaches of the river. Ice jams can also cause flash floods when a sudden breakup releases a cascade of water and ice downstream, state officials said in a news release.

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