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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Second sign of spring

Another sign of spring - ice jams on the Mohawk River. Looking downstream from above Lock 8, this is similar to a shot from October, but not exactly the same spot.

As the snow in the mountains begins to melt, the river gets more water, which lifts the frozen surface clear of the banks. Once clear, the natural flow of the river starts to carry the ice downstream. It doesn't get very far, of course, and it begins to crack and break on the shore.

The river grinds the ice bit by bit, from pieces the size of a city block , down to the size of a swimming pool, down to the size seen here, about 1 square yard / metre. It jams up on the bridge supports in the river, and on the lock dams and pretty much every natural constriction in the river.

Only after the river has ground them small enough will they pass through these choke points. Until then, there is a very real danger of the ice jam growing large enough to cause the river to back up and overflow its banks. Our oldest part of the city, the Stockade, is currently under a flood watch for this very reason. I expect that the jams will clear in a day or two. There's lots of water in the river and the temperature has been above freezing, which helps a lot!


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