PHOTO OF ICE IN DOWNTOWN GRAND RAPIDS AT 1PM THURSDAY
WEST MICHIGAN — (Mar. 20, 2014) As we head into the first day of spring flooding concerns continue to rise as the waters of the Grand River in Kent County inch higher. The slow and gradual melt of a foot and a half of snow has been beneficial to keeping the rivers from rising too fast however the melting and breaking-up of river ice is creating a new problem.
Ice jams are a major threat this spring as record cold and snow from this winter caused widespread freezing of lakes and rivers. The slow melt of the ice combined with increased river flows can sometimes create a “bottle-neck” situation causing the rivers to rise rapidly.
An ice jam formed in Ada Wednesday night causing concern to National Weather Service Hydrologists. A Flood Watch was issued for Kent County but early Thursday morning National Weather Service Hydrologists surveyed the area of the Fulton street bridge over M-21 and found that the ice jam was dislodged. Shortly after 7 AM Thursday morning the flood gauge at Comstock Park saw a large increase bringing the river level over flood stage. This sharp increase of nearly a foot has led Hydrologists to believe the ice jam in Ada traveled down river towards downtown Grand Rapids. This rapid increase in river levels has caused the National Weather Service to issue a Flood Warning for the Grand River in Comstock Park as levels have bypassed flood stage.
As of 10:30 AM the river was measured at 12.4 feet almost a half of a foot above flood stage. At 13 feet the Abrigador Trail and Willow Drive will be underwater and some homes may experience minor flooding. A Flood Warning was issued because ice jams can cause rapid increases in river levels in a short amount of time. Because of these wild fluctuations use caution while in or near the Grand River because water only 6 inches deep can knock an Adult off their feet.
Although the river is only forecast to reach around 13 feet, flooding is still fresh on the mind for many as it was only eleven months ago that the Grand River had it’s highest crest ever in Comstock Park at 17.8 feet on April 21, 2013.