WDAY: The News Leader

Published November 28, 2010, 08:20 AM

Ice jams cause the Red River to suddenly rise

Wahpeton, ND (WDAY TV) - People along the Red River in and near Wahpeton are dealing with an unusual sight this fall: Flooding and ice jams. The jams are causing the river to suddenly rise, worrying homeowners.

The Red River normally flows free this time of year, but now is slowly rising up its banks near Wahpeton.

Paul Folden: "This is unusual, yeah very unusual for this to be this high."

Seeing it rise this early due to ice jams is something Paul Folden has rarely seen in his 27-years of living next the river.

Paul Folden: "I think this spring is going to be a real tough one to be honest with you."

Ice jams are clogging a 16-mile stretch of the river from Wahpeton to Abercrombie. Overnight, the river rose 2.5 feet, hitting minor flood stage of 10 feet.

Brett Lambrecht: "Most of the time the rivers able to freeze itself and kind of stay calm. But when you're pushing this much water through and all the sudden you get ice, just like we see in the spring. It’s a concern to watch."

Higher amounts of water are flowing in to the river from lakes country caused by recent heavy snow, a quick thaw, and freeze.

Brett Lambrecht: "Hopefully were able to push this water through this winter and be ready for whatever Mother Nature and winter gives us and be ready for spring."

So this all too common sight, but rare now, is a reminder what we could see months away. Homeowners like Folden hope the worst of these ice jams is behind them.

The Red in Wahpeton-Breckenridge is at 10.45 feet. It's expected to fluctuate between 10 and 11 feet for several days.