Ice jam floods are a fairly common incident in parts of northern USA and Canada. Many of the spring floods earlier this month in Montana were a result of ice jams.
Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Washington and Wyoming all experienced similar ice jam floods. Around 40 people had to be evacuated in Nova Scotia, Canada on 13 March 2014 after flooding caused by ice backup from the frozen Bras d’Or Lakes.
If circumstances permit, ice jams such as those listed above are normally broken up using heavy construction equipment such as excavators, sometimes adapted for use on water, such as the Amphibex below.
For larger scale areas, special boats such as the ones from the Canadian coast guard below, are likely to be used.
However, in extreme cases, breaking ice jams may require more extreme measures. On a remote part of the Yellow River in China, the ice jam was considered to be so severe that “military intervention” was required. This came in the form of several Chinese Air Force bombers, who were called in to drop 24 bombs on the frozen river in order to free up the flow and save towns and cities upstream from flooding.
All 24 bombs hit their target and the mission was considered a success. So for any residents of northern USA who might be threatened by ice jam flooding, don’t call the Coast Guard or FEMA. Ask the US Air Force to make a visit.
About Ice Jams and Floods
According to Encyclopedia Britannica
Ice jams can lead to localized and regional flooding in the area behind the blockage, and the sudden failure of an ice jam can release large quantities of water and ice that may cause damage to nearby structures, crop lands, and wildlife habitat downstream. The phenomenon is commonly associated with blockages of ice that prevent the late winter or early spring drainage of rain and melting snows in colder regions or with the breakup of glaciers and ice sheets.