Concern for ice jams with warmer temps, rain

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — After the coldest start to January on record, we have had plenty of cold air just sitting around. Now that the thaw is happening, we have this huge ice sheet on the Susquehanna River.

This is thick ice that is barely moving, but it certainly has the attention of forecasters and hydrologists at the National Weather Service in State College.

“In the next few days, we are looking to see the water levels rise and that will start moving the ice around,” said Charles Ross, an NWS hydrologist. “The small streams, when it rains the next couple of days, they will probably start moving probably by tomorrow, for sure on Saturday.”

“Now the big rivers, let’s talk about the Susquehanna. That’s probably going to take a little bit of time. With the local rainfall expected around an inch in Harrisburg, that’s probably not going to move a lot of ice right away,” Ross said.

It’s not just the ice and water sitting here in Harrisburg, it’s also about what is going on upstream to our north and also the west.

“It looks like it is probably on Sunday when we get a lot of water from upstream from the West Branch and from the upstream areas in New York state. That’s when we are really going to start to see the ice moving in Harrisburg,” Ross said.

Overall, minor impacts are expected when the river sees the biggest rises this weekend.

“Some of the flood-prone areas on the Susquehanna, especially south of Harrisburg, could see some brief ice jamming, with it the water levels are going to come up relatively fast, probably about four or five feet and quite a bit of flow,” Ross said.

We will be watching the river closely throughout the weekend and keeping you updated about any ice jams or flooding threats.

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