Ice Jams

1/18/18 Upstream from Overton bridge.

View Current Watches/Warnings

FEBRUARY 27, 2018
Starting This Week: Be Aware of Ice Jams Along the Platte River

With higher temperatures this week, the Central Platte Natural Resources District is warning homeowners that ice jams and flooding are a high potential along the Platte River.  This winter has had more freezing degree days and the ice is thicker.  The warmer temperatures this week will start to melt the ice.  When this occurs jams and flooding may follow. Residents along the river need to have an elevated awareness of the river water levels.  Check the river levels frequently as ice jams can occur rapidly and at any time, day or night.  Residents need to keep up-to-date with Emergency Management postings on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as listen to local news outlets for announcements.  Tune in to NOAA weather radio for alerts or visit .  Residents are urged to take flood precautions including knowing alternate escape routes, having an emergency supplies kit, and an emergency communications plan with family and neighbors.  For more information please contact your county Emergency Manager:

  • Hall County Emergency Management:    (308)-385 5360
  • Buffalo County: (308)-233 3225
  • Phelps County: (308)-995 2250
  • Kearney County: (308)-743 2442
  • Gosper County: (308)-268 5088
  • Dawson County: (308)-324 2070
  • Boone/Merrick/Nance County: (308)-550 1685

Prepare for Ice Jam Flooding Along Platte

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 particularly 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 to 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 the 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:

Steps to Get Ready  for Ice Jam Flooding:

-Start a 24-hour watch to keep regular observation of the ice/water.

-Develop a calling tree of neighbors to notify if a flood emergency begins so everyone can get out.

-Call 911 in an emergency.

-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 a flood occurs while the 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

Info Mtg Feb17 2016

Contact information for all Emergency Managers in Nebraska Website


Photo: Ice Jam Information Meeting held February 17, 2016 at the Central City Community Center.