Occasional spring thaws began several weeks ago in parts of the country. As Lewis and Susan Case hiked along Felchner Brook in the placid, mid-March woods of Vermont, they thought they were just making a nice amateur video of a brief walk on a cloudy day.
Suddenly, things changed. A roar smacked into the peaceful silence, and Felchner Brook exploded with hurtling water, ice, and debris.
Tom Skilling, Chicago’s famed weathercaster and meteorologist, explains:
“Flooding brought on by ice dams can hit with frightening strength and speed–as illustrated by this video posted by Bill Morris, National Weather Weather Service-Chicago hydrologist.”
Morris, who reports on Illinois river floods and timing, obtained the terrifying thaw footage from colleagues at the National Weather Service office in Caribou, Maine.
Creek flooding can be spectacular, but river ice jams, like the one on the Delaware on January 9, 2014 (above) cause disaster in many parts of the country. When an ice jam breaks in a river, it can carry the force of a tsunami. The wave is many times bigger than in a small stream. Trees, rocks, and large ice chunks race along with the suddenly freed water. The experts conclude:
“The Cases were lucky because Felchner Brook is small, but anyone caught unawares by a sudden large ice jam release would have little to no chance of survival.”
Breaking ice jams have also been recorded during the past month of thaw in Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Montana, and Wyoming. See YouTube videos here.