Ice Jam season arrives in Montana - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Ice Jam season arrives in Montana

Posted: Updated:
BILLINGS, Mont. -

Ice jams are very common here in Montana because of how long and cold our winter season lasts.

So common in fact, that Montana ice jams make up approximately 9% of all reported jams in the continental United States.    

Montana has the highest number of reported ice jams and ice jam deaths in the lower 48.

Most of Montana's ice jams occur in February and March when warmer temperatures and spring rains cause snow and ice to rapidly melt.

All of this extra water causes frozen rivers and streams to swell up, and the layer of ice on top of the river begins to break up.

That ice flows down stream and can get piled up in narrow passages forming a dam.

This dam will block the flow of the river and cause the river to flood.

Ice jams can be dangerous for people living in towns nearby.

The rushing water has nowhere to go and it can cause flooding in the surrounding area.

Ice jams are possible in several areas throughout Montana.

The top three rivers with the most reported ice jams are the Missouri River, Yellowstone River, and Milk River.

The top three locations for reported ice jams in Montana are the International Boundary with 224 ice jams, Miles City with 55, and Bozeman with 41 reported ice jams,

Here are some helpful tips to remember as ice jam season approaches.

If you see the rivers near your house starting to rise even a few inches make sure to report it immediately to your local emergency services and National Weather Service office.

Take precautions and move your animals and equipment further away from the river if possible.

And, if you've had some problems in the past you might want to look into flood insurance.

Two or three inches added to a river might not seem like a lot but it can cause more damage than you think so be aware of your surroundings and be proactive.

There are currently three ice jams on Montana rivers but none are causing flooding.

If you would like to learn more information about ice jams here is a link to the National Weather Service information:  https://noaa.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=c42b2df23a8c42ff9a2aef37843bdccb

For a look at current and historical ice jams click on this link: http://rsgisias.crrel.usace.army.mil/apex/f?p=524:9:0::NO

Information for this story was provided by NWS Billings, NWS Glasgow, NWS Great Falls, NWS Missoula, Gina Loss, Steve DiGiovanna, and Dr. K. White with the Cold Regions Research and Engineering lab.

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