Ice jams mounting as thaw continues

LAKE COUNTY -- Warmer weather and rain this weekend could turn the snow and ice already on the ground to water.

Where could it all end up?

That's the concern, particularly for those along the river banks who know the damage an ice dam can do.

"Pickle Bills has never really been flooded inside at all," said family owner Jeffrey Powell.

"There's some cracks in it. It's going to break eventually but I don't know if it will get cold again and freeze up," he said.

"We just want to know what the status is of the ice," said Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Davis, the executive officer at the Station Fairport.

"You're going to get a lot of ice formation, and a lot of water that's upriver. That will tend to create a natural barrier. A natural dam of ice," he said. "As it gets colder, the ice will get deeper. Larger chunks of ice will form and it will keep piling and piling and piling. It prevents the natural flow of water down, out through the channel. So there's always a very large concern of flooding up river."

On the Chagrin River in Eastlake, all eyes are on the "popcorn" ice jamming up instead of flowing downstream.

"This weekend, our concerns are that if we have a thaw with some considerable rain to it, we could see the river rise up and with the jams and the ice jams, it will have a difficult time being pushed out," said Eastlake Fire Chief Ted Whittington.

"You can never tell about Mother Nature," said Powell. "If we get some rain, maybe it will break. It's so hard to judge."

Davis says it's important to know with floodwaters from an ice jam that the water is extremely cold and can often have a destructive current because of the ice formation.


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