Ice Jams Lead to Flood Advisory Near Salmon, Other Buildups Near Bearmouth and Drummond
Daily temperatures in Western Montana have been frequently below zero the last week, it’s been so cold that even the rivers are starting to take pause. National Weather Service Meteorologist Trent Smith says there is a risk of ice jams in nearby areas.
"One of the bigger things is once the ice gets so thick it actually starts backing water up and slowly spreads into the low lying areas," said Smith. "The taking out of bridges is more when it really warms up real quickly. The ice breaks up and comes down in one big chunk. We are not looking at that, we are just looking at more of this building its own dam up and the water spreading out."
In 1996, ice jam flooding led to the deaths of two Montanans. Though things today aren’t nearly that bad yet, Smith says local hydrologist Ray Nickless is carefully monitoring three areas in particular.
"There is a nice end that generally forms around the Bearmouth area, we have taken a look out," Smith said. "There is another one over in the Drummond area. One that we deal with practically every winter is actually down in the Salmon area. Salmon has a lot of ice built up and there is actually one that could potentially impact the city of Salmon. We actually have flood advisories out for that area."
After the ice began to thaw in 1996, things became very dangerous on the Blackfoot river when an ice jam broke loose and sped toward Milltown tearing through riverside trees, a bridge, and even a home.