With the cold winter season, we will begin seeing more ice formation in the Platte River channels. Colder temperatures in the near term are going to lead to ice formation in the next few weeks. When enough ice forms it can jam together, causing the river water to escape the banks and cause flooding. Although there is no particular elevated risk of river flooding this winter, below is some information to help prepare for ice jam floods if they should occur.
Ice jam flooding can occur quickly. In just a matter of hours, the channels can become clogged and flooding can occur. Once ice begins to clog a waterway, the water can back up quickly. If you live near a channel with ice, be constantly aware of the level of the water. Be prepared to evacuate.
Ice jams can occur from December – March. Although they can occur whenever the weather is cold enough; historically most form in January, February and March; according to a January 1996 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report titled: Ice Jam Flooding and Mitigation, Lower Platte River Basin, Nebraska.
Flood waters can be deep. Whenever there are rushing floodwaters, roads and bridges can be washed away quickly. It is nearly impossible to tell how deep the water is. It is important to remember that even if water looks shallow, do not drive into flooded, potentially washed out areas.
People have been trapped in their vehicles and/or drowned when trying to cross moving flood waters.
It pays to be prepared. The following information is adapted from the Federal Emergency Management Agency website regarding disaster preparedness: www.ready.gov/make-a-plan
Steps to Get Ready for Ice Jam Flooding:
-Start a 24-hour watch to keep regular observation on the ice/water.
-Develop a calling tree of neighbors to notify if a flood emergency begins so everyone can get out.
-Identify backup escape routes and methods if the main driveway is flooded.
-Make a Safety Kit: water, flashlights, batteries, backup cell phone charging system, food, blankets, tools to shut utilities off, dry clothes.
-Rendezvous plan if flood occurs while family is separated. A designated third-party number to call to check in and a common place to meet.
Local County Emergency Managers
HALL COUNTY Emergency Management: (308) 385-5360
HAMILTON COUNTY Kirt Smith Phone: (402) 694-5126
BUFFALO COUNTY Darrin Lewis Phone: (308) 233-3225
PHELPS, GOSPER, HITCHCOCK, FRONTIER Patrick Gerdes Phone: (308)-995-2250
BOONE, MERRICK, NANCE COUNTIES Thomas Smith Phone: (308) 536-4443