What’s a Michigan Ice Jam and What Can They Cause? Find Out Here
With all the rain West Michigan received in the last 24 hours, many of our area rivers may wind up creating an "Ice Jam" or "Ice Dam" that could cause some problems.
What Is an Ice Jam or Ice Dam?
Usually, an ice jam or ice dam happens in the spring when the snow and ice begin melting away. The ice breaks into chunks and can block the flow of a river which could lead to flooding. Flooding is not good for anyone and especially those who live along the river.
Rain also can contribute to an ice jam or ice dam and speed the snow and ice melting process up.
What happens is the extra water from rain and snow melting causes the ice to break up. Then large chunks of ice will flow downstream. These ice chunks can wind up grouping where a river narrows building an ice dam. This can stop the flow of the river and result in flooding.
What makes things worse with winter rain is the ground is still frozen so the excess water has nowhere to go.
What West Michigan Rivers Could be Affected by an Ice Jam?
Certainly, the Grand River in Grand Rapids and all the communities the river passes through on its way to Lake Michigan. The Kalamazoo River is another where ice jams can form. North of Grand Rapids another candidate for an ice dam is the Muskegon River.
Ice Dams Can Form on Your Home
Ice dams can also be a problem for homeowners when melting snow and rain freeze up in your gutters which gives water nowhere to go. This can lead to a roof leak and no one wants to have to fix a roof. If you get a roof leak, that can lead to a host of problems inside your house. With proper air sealing, insulation, and attic venting you can avoid this problem. Plus if you have snow on your roof and you know some rain is coming. Getting that snow off the roof before the rain comes can save you a lot of problems.