Rivers around the Great Lakes are threatened by ice jams, including the Kankakee River in central Illinois (above). Around Buffalo, NY the Cazenovia Creek is at risk for flooding due to large ice jams on it as well. Flood alerts remain in effect for the Kankakee River, Cazenovia Creek, and others in the area. Do not go near the water and if your home is threatened by an ice-flow, listen to local authorities on the potential to evacuate.
So what is an ice jam? Ice jams form when ice upstream starts to melt and break apart. Those chunks of ice are then pushed downstream by the current but get blocked and stuck together, preventing the river from flowing as normal. As a result, the upstream water will overflow its banks and create problems for nearby cities and communities.
Mid-January was characterized by sub-zero temperatures for many around the Great Lakes, which quickly produced ice on rivers, creeks, and streams. As temperatures rose above freezing, and even to the 50s and 60s, we saw a rapid melt of the ice and any snow that was on the ground, contributing to full creeks and rivers. Temperatures will stay cool through Monday before rising back in some spots in the 50s and that will contribute to more snowmelt in parts of the Mid Atlantic and Ohio Valley region.