Ice Jams

1/18/18 Upstream from Overton bridge.

View Current Watches/Warnings

With higher temperatures after a long freeze, homeowners need to be aware that ice jams and flooding are a high potential along the Platte River.  When warmer temperatures occur, ice will start to melt with the potential for jams and flooding. 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 & Twitter, as well as listen to local news outlets for announcements.  Tune in to NOAA weather radio for alerts or visit https://www.weather.gov/gid/ .

Flood precautions:  Know alternate escape routes, have an emergency supplies kit & an emergency communications plan with family and neighbors.

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.  

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.

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: www.ready.gov/make-a-plan

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 & a common place to meet.

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

Contact information for all Emergency Managers in Nebraska Website

Your CPNRD Contact: David Carr (308) 385-6282 or carr@cpnrd.org.