ICE JAMS: Risk For Flash Floods Next Week

The National Weather Service says warmer temperatures over the next few days will melt the snow on the ground and the ice covering Iowa rivers.

All that melting could cause ice jams, putting some parts of the state at risk for flash flooding.

An area just north of Fort Dodge on the Des Moines River has seen first-hand the damage ice jams can cause.

Tall prairie grass and broken branches now cover an area once occupied by several homes.

“We had such severe damage we applied to FEMA for a buyout of the homes in this area,” said Tony Jorgensen, the emergency manager for Webster County.

In February of 2011, Jorgensen says a fast warm-up melted the ice covering the river.

Ice chunks flowed downstream and jammed up the river when they reached narrow areas.

Melting snow had no other place to go, and flooded nearby homes.

“When the ice jams up, water gets backed up behind it and it floods into people’s homes,” Jorgensen told Channel 13 News.

Jeff Zogg, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service is concerned that ice jams could lead to flooding throughout the state by early next week.

“Once you start having ice jam activity, flash floods can happen very quickly,” said Zogg.

On Monday and Tuesday, Zogg says rivers south of Highway 30 including the Raccoon, Des Moines, Skunk, and Iowa rivers are at risk for jams.

Tuesday into Wednesday, the risk switches to rivers north of Highway 30.

“It’s definitely something people need to be on the lookout for,” said Zogg.

Jorgensen is on the look-out.

Even though rivers levels near Fort Dodge are currently low, folks living off Breen Road have seen how quickly that can change.

“It’s not an every year occurrence. Folks in this area are much better prepared than they were,” said Jorgensen.



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