This week marks 3-year anniversary of river ice jam, flood in Portland

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — River ice jams are causing issues on the east side of the state.

River ice jams are caused by constant warming and above freezing temperatures, followed by a quick warm up. That breaks up the ice and it accumulates along bridges and other areas.

Typically, it happens in the early winter or early spring, though West Michigan has seen significant ice jams in the past in the January and February months.


Portland neighbors rally together after ice jam, flood

A Feb. 6, 2019 photo shows an ice jam on the Grand River in Portland. (Feb. 6, 2019)

Just three years ago, an ice jam caused destructive flooding in Portland. It damaged homes and business and forced hundreds to evacuate.

“It’s very difficult to deal with, it’s very difficult to get rid of an ice jam, so we pretty much learn to live with it until it breaks up. It can last for several days to a week,” Storm Team 8 Chief Meteorologist Emeritus Bill Steffen said.

There have also been ice jams in other areas. Some of the more significant ones have happened along the Grand River in Robinson Township.


NWS warns of flooding as ice jam clogs Grand River

On the east side of the state, an ice jam in the St. Clair River has caused several issues over the last few weeks. The United States Coast Guard was sent out for help.

There won’t be an ice jam in West Michigan this week, but it’s something those along the river should be thinking about.

“The temperatures won’t be warm enough for a long enough time,” Steffen said. “If you live in a flood plain you might be more susceptible to getting an ice jam so you have to have a plan in advance, because these come up pretty quickly. On rare occasion you might need to evacuate.”

A frozen Duck Lake Ditch in Calhoun County. (courtesy Logan Breuker)A frozen Duck Lake Ditch in Calhoun County. (courtesy Logan Breuker)

If you see an ice jam developing, get to higher ground and then call your local law enforcement agency.

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