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By Tim Leeds 

People warned to be aware of dangers of ice jams

Today is eighth annual Ice Jam Awareness Day, Mont. has highest incidence in lower 48

 

January 9, 2014

Lindsay Brown

The Milk River is shown covered by thick ice and snow Wednesday afternoon.

National Weather Service is putting extra effort in today to help people recognize a common and serious problem in Montana - ice jams.

Today is the eighth annual Ice Jam Awareness Day in Montana, which Weather Service created to help educate the state's residents about potential problems that can result from ice jams and associated ice jam flooding.

Ice jams are created when rapid freezing - or breakup and collection of ice during melting - creates dams on rivers and streams. The ice jams can cause flooding above the frozen dam, or flash floods if the ice jam breaks up and releases the water trapped above the dam.

In a press release, Weather Service reports that Montana has the highest number of reported ice jams and the highest number of ice jam-related deaths in the lower 48 states. Ice jams that occur in Montana comprise about 9 percent of the total for the continental United States. Nearly two-thirds of Montana's ice jams occur in February and March, but can be a problem as early as December.

Snowmelt or rain on top of snow can occur along with the breakup of a jam and increase the level of flooding, the release says.

People who see an ice jam are asked to contact their local law enforcement, Disaster and Emergency Services office or National Weather Service to report the jam.

A Web page the Weather Service provides also gives information about working to prevent damage in areas where ice jams occur repeatedly.

Federal Emergency Management Agency pre-disaster mitigation funds could be available to help communities reduce flooding in areas where ice jams occur.

The page suggests people visit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab Web page at http://www.crrel.usace.army.mil/ierd/hardwick/Low.html for information about possible mitigation projects and http://www.fema.gov/government/mitigation.shtm for information about FEMA and its mitigation grants.

People also can ask their local county or city Disaster and Emergency Services coordinator or they can contact Kent Atwood, the State Hazard Mitigation Officer for Montana at katwood@mt.gov or 406-324-4782, the Web page says.

People who might experience flooding due to ice jams also are recommended to review information about flood insurance online at http://www.floodsmart.gov.

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Online: Montana Weather Service ice jam Web page: http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/tfx/icejam/?wfo=tfx

 

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