Frozen rivers could lead to flooding

Credit: Deren Martinez/KTVB

Frozen rivers could lead to flooding

Print
Email
|

by Scott Evans

Bio | Email | Follow: @ScottEvansKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on January 23, 2013 at 7:09 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 26 at 12:37 AM

WEISER, Idaho  –The cold, it's what just about all of us are talking about right now. It's so cold we're seeing things we haven't seen in a long time.

At the confluence of the Weiser and Snake rivers, you can see both rivers are frozen over. This has not happened since 1991. While this is not a problem now, it's the coming weeks and months that has locals worrying about flooding.

About nine miles west of Weiser the Snake River gets shallow, about two feet deep.

"This is the lowest level below Weiser for the ice to stack up on and start stacking back," said Steve Domby, the Emergency Services Coordinator for Washington County.

Domby is watching that shallow area because it’s where the chain reaction begins.

"That is where we need to have it break loose and have it start flowing down towards the Brownlee Dam," said Domby.

But the cold temperatures we've had the last few weeks are only making this problem worse. More and more ice is piling up in the Snake River, it's backed up for miles.

"This is the kind of stuff that is really hard to push out," said Domby pointing to ice that’s jagged and piled up. And that's his worry.

"The worst case scenario would be if that river stays there frozen up, this here has nowhere to go," said Domby.

That happened in February 1982 and again in 1990. It caused bad flooding in Weiser, filling homes and fields with water. Right now, he says it's too early to tell if that will happen.

"If we can get a month of cool nights, warm days and let this come out slow and easy, then we'll be good," said Domby.

Right now, there is a patch of water on the Snake River where the back up begins, and that’s a good sign because just a few days ago it was frozen over.

"So this is starting to flow through there a little better and it is melting some of the ice over there in front of that island," said Domby.

Again, the worst case scenario is the Weiser River thaws before the Snake River, creating flooding in Weiser. But again, at this point, Domby has no idea if that will happen.

Washington County is preparing for that worst case scenario, stocking up on sand just in case. But the longer we go with these cold temperatures, the greater the problem becomes.

Print
Email
|