Ice Jam Warning Issued for Montana, Not Imminent in Missoula Area
On Wednesday, January 3, the Montana DNRC posted a warning about ice jams and flooding, but Missoula-area hydrologist Ray Nickless with the National Weather Service says that the issue is mainly a concern for other parts of the state.
"It's just normal ice building up in the creeks and rivers at this point," Nickless said. "We didn't get that extreme, cold arctic blast that eastern Montana got this last week. They are certainly having more issues with the ice building up as opposed to here in western Montana where are temperatures have been cool and it's causing ice to build in local creeks and rivers, but it's nothing that's really causing an issue at this point."
Nickless says ice jam flooding could become an issue if temperatures get too cold for too long.
"When we get the real cold arctic temperatures, where it starts getting anywhere in that ten degrees to fifteen or twenty below and then stays like that for a while, you can get what we call freeze-up ice jams, where the ice builds up in the actual channel," Nickless said. "It makes like a mini-dam and the water starts spreading out behind that."
Nickless says that another change in the weather could lead to flooding too: break-up ice jams could result if we get a quick warm-up that dumps too much snow melt into local water ways.