Officials watchful for ice jams, flooding - Press-Republican: Local News

Officials watchful for ice jams, flooding

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Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 2:28 am

JAY — An ice jam at Stickney Bridge here let go Monday morning, moving down the East Branch of the Ausable River and breaking up another obstruction in the hamlet of AuSable Forks.

That second jam was located in the flood-prone area behind the Grand Union on Route 9N, where the East Branch joins the Ausable’s West Branch, Jay Department of Public Works Director Chris Garrow said shortly after noon.

“Right now, we’re pretty clear,” he said around noon on Monday.

Officials kept a sharp eye out for ice jams and flooding as temperatures warmed up late last week and continued balmy — at least for a North Country January — into Monday.

After AuSable Forks, the next danger point for ice-jam flooding tends to be Clintonville, which sits partly in the towns of AuSable and Chesterfield. Garrow said the Keeseville Volunteer Fire Department was notified of that potential.

While ice floes bobbed and jostled one another in the water just outside Keeseville Monday, no issues were reported by evening.


In Franklin County, the Little Salmon River along County Route 4 (Bombay-Westville Road) was about 4 feet higher than normal on Monday, but it had still not overflowed its banks.

“We’ve been monitoring everything since Friday night, Saturday morning, and we really don’t have anything to report,” said Ricky Provost, director of Franklin County Emergency Services.

He said his agency had been constantly checking with town officials about their water levels and that Drum Street in Fort Covington was 10 to 12 inches from having water go over its pavement.

But that is typical for that spot during the annual January thaw, so it wasn’t much of a concern, he said.

Provost said he spoke with officials at the National Weather Service in Burlington who felt that, as temperatures began getting colder by mid afternoon and into Monday evening, “the water would have reached its crest and start going back down again.”

He said his dispatchers would continue to watch the flood-prone areas of the county like Fort Covington, which has a series of cameras installed to monitor the river.

Provost said ‘the cameras had problems,” but County Data Processing Director Rob Green was working to correct the issues.


Points in the Town of Keene seemed at risk for some flooding earlier Monday, according to Essex County dispatch, but all was well as noon approached.

There, past inundations have come from John’s Brook in Keene Valley and Gulf Brook in the Keene hamlet; both flow into the East Branch of the Ausable River.

“There is the potential for ice breakup and movement with possible ice jams,” the National Weather Service at Burlington reported on its website Monday.

But warmer conditions that bring danger to anglers and others on the ice tend to work against the formation of serious jams, the Weather Service said.

“However, ice jams are very unpredictable, and past experience has shown when we have river ice present in the order of what is forecast, ice jams occur.”

The temperatures Monday morning hovered around 45 degrees in the North Country.

But the forecast for nighttime was a low of 17, a welcome dip for areas prone to flooding. A partly sunny day Tuesday was expected to be about 33 degrees with lows around 14 at night.

— Staff Writer Denise Raymo

contributed to this report.