Ice jam on Muskegon River causes worry

Posted at 5:18 PM, Jan 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-28 17:18:50-05

BRIDGETON TOWNSHIP, Mich. - Sunday, an ice jam on the Muskegon River caused the National Weather Service to issue a flood warning.

The intimidating condition is the first of its kind since 2008.

Caused by days of below freezing temperatures, Abby Watkins, Director of Newaygo County Emergency Services tells us, "this ice jam has caused water to build up and potentially threatens residents downstream."

Due to the threat, Andy Dixon, a National Weather Service hydrologist, went to the site of the jam Sunday to assess the situation.

He explains, "What can happen is that these chunks of ice are going down the river and sometimes they get stuck on things, and this is called an ice jam."

At the height of the jam, about two miles of river were plugged up. Water levels rose from 8 1/2 ft, to almost 14 ft.

"The reason that we were concerned is that this area is our lowest-lying area on the river, and so there as a potential that if it kept going up, homeowners may be impacted," says Watkins.

Thankfully on Dixon's visit he found that Sunday afternoon water channels were forming underneath the ice, allowing water to move again. However with big changes in temperatures the next several days, homeowners should still stay alert.

"Anybody who lives in an area that they know has a history of ice jam, flooding, should pay extra attention, take some basic precautions now in case something does develop, but we're not anticipating any specific flooding issues at this time," explains Dixon.