Bombs Break Yellow River Ice Jam, China

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.

ice jam breaker
Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press archives An Amphibex works on the Red River

For larger scale areas, special boats such as the ones from the Canadian coast guard below, are likely to be used.

ice jam breakers
Canadian Coast Guard Ice Breaker. Photo: U.S. Geological Survey

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.

Chinese Air Force Bombs hit Yellow River Ice Jam

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.