Ellen Bacca and Matt Kirkwood -
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) -- It's that time of year again: With warming temperatures and the threat of widespread rain, ice jams will be possible across West Michigan this coming week.
Rivers across West Michigan frequently experience ice jams. Many are small, but some can have a huge flooding impact on property close to a riverbank.
Ice jams that happen due to warming temperatures are called "break up" jams. These usually happen toward the end of spring and typically cause more flooding damage than "freeze up" ice jams, which occur in early winter.>>Inside woodtv.com: Michigan river conditions
Ice jams are most common near river bends, spots where the river doesn't slope down as much, mouths of tributaries or near bridges or dams. Chunks of ice can get stuck in these spots, creating a pileup effect and blocking the water upstream from flowing. That's when water begins creeping out of its banks and into yards and parking lots.>>App users: Photos of a 2017 ice jam in Grand Rapids
Lawns, fields and forests are soggy with melting snow after two days of 40-degree temperatures. Before the warmup, West Michigan was averaging close to about a foot of snow on the ground. Satellite measurements with compaction have measured the water content of the snow sitting on the ground as about 1 or 2 inches, which is a lot.
Melting of this snow has already started saturating the ground and begun to fill river basins.
Along with this melting snow, we are expected to see a pretty hefty dose of rain this coming week. The ground will either be saturated or still slow to thaw, meaning we expect a lot of new water to run off into rivers and lakes.
Keep an eye on your Storm Team 8 forecast for days that feature both warmth and rain. These are days the ice jam potential will be highest.>>Inside woodtv.com: Get the free Storm Team 8 app
To spot an ice jam, look for areas where chunks of ice are building up faster than usual on a river or stream. Report any ice jams to your local National Weather Service or emergency manager, as flooding could shortly follow.
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