Ice Jam: Weird World Weather

  • Feb 08, 2017

Ice Jam: Weird World Weather

Ice jam flooding, also known as ice overflow, occurs when pieces of floating ice get jammed and cause an overflow of water and debris. These jams accumulate behind river bends, mouths of tributaries, dams and bridges. Ice jams occur in colder regions when during the late winter and early spring.


Types of Ice Jams

There are two main types of ice jams. The first type is called a freeze-up. A freeze-up happens when extremely cold air temperatures occur over open water. This results in the rapid production of large amounts of river ice that can jam downstream.

The second type is called a break-up. This is the more common type of ice jams. They actually account for 2/3 of ice jams. As temperatures warm up above freezing, river ice begins to melt. This is because the water beneath the ice sheets warms up as well. This can also occur because of sun exposure. Snow melt can also cause ice jams by contributing to flooding.

Safety Tips

If you work near a river in a cold region, it’s important to make winter weather safety a priority with your employees. Businesses on rivers prone to ice jams should heed the following safety tips.

  1. Form an emergency evacuation plan
  2. Research organizations that report ice jams in your area
  3. Construct ice/flood control structures

Our meteorologists suggest that the number one tip for any type of flooding is to head to higher ground. If you’re in your car and you see flooding across the roadway, the best advice is “Turn around, don’t drown!”

Recent Occurrences

Recently, ice jams damaged buildings in Romania. EU Storm Maps shared images from the incident on their Facebook page.

In the US, concerns are mounting near the Mississippi River. Warmer temperatures caused the snow to melt onto roads. With fluctuating temperatures, this may continue to happen in the area.