Higher temps may cause more ice jams (with photos)

By Erika Mahoney

January 10, 2014 Updated Jan 10, 2014 at 7:58 PM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) No matter the season in the Twin Tiers, warm or cold, flooding is always a concern.

A flood watch is in effect for most of New York this weekend and ice jams could contribute to any overflow.

Ice jams form when warm weather thaws out frozen rivers and streams and chunks of ice pile up. They can cause dangerous situations, so officials want local residents to be alert.

"The warmth is going to melt the snow and ice and also loosen this ice, so we get the ice moving," Jim Brewster, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service said. "And that's the problem. If the rivers rise, and the ice is moving, it can all start piling up."

Brewster said it's hard to tell where ice jamming may occur, but certain areas are more susceptible.

That includes areas with lots of curves in the river, or areas that are more narrow, like part of the Susquehanna that runs through Campville.

The Campville Fire Department said they've never seen the river in their area so jammed up.

"Because of the extreme temperatures that we've had this year, with it being really warm one day and the fast thaw, the river has really iced up more than we've ever seen in years past," Campville Fire District Manager Kevin Ford said.

Ice jams can be extremely dangerous.

"Stay away from the ice," Campville Fire Chief Mark Daniel said. "And if you do notice flood waters are starting to come in, or water is starting to rise, move to higher ground, and do it sooner rather than later."

The department does have a river rescue boat, which is a very versatile piece of equipment. It can aid in rescues year-round as it can travel in water and through ice. It's only limitation is that if the ice is too jagged, it can poke holes in the bottom of the boat.

The department said they hope they don't have to use the rescue boat this weekend and that people don't put themselves in danger.

Ford said it's important for ice fishers to stay away from the rivers.

If a dangerous situation does arise, "call early, if there's going to be a problem, call early," Ford said.

The National Weather Service also asks anyone who sees flooding to alert them and emergency responders so everyone can be prepared.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.