Ice Jams and Elevated Water Levels Make Certain Areas at Risk For Flooding

“I think the biggest concern for us right now at the National Weather Service is what’s going on along the Yellowstone,” says hydrologist Allen Schlag. 

In Cartwright, North Dakota, a hayfield is covered in water. Not far away, a back channel of the Yellowstone River is covered in ice jams.  These are the situations McKenzie County’s Emergency Manager, Karolin Jappe, closely monitors.

“I couldn’t see the jam all the way down yesterday, so now it’s really jammed up,” says Karolin Jappe. 

Runoff from snow melt and the accumulation of ice jams has caused rising water levels on the Yellowstone River-
particularly in areas of Montana.

“That still has to make its way through the Yellowstone of North Dakota and eventually into the Missouri River by Williston,” says Schlag. 

And while Missouri River gauge readings near Williston are below flood stage, the area remains under a flood warning.

“Water’s kind of like fire. You can’t direct fire. You can’t control fire. You cannot control water. If it’s going to go somewhere, it’s going to go. Whether you try to control it or not,” says Jappe. 

Jappe makes regular visits to impacted areas and communicates with area first responders and local residents. She has a call list of about 40 people in potential flood areas that she alerts to any possible emergency situations.

“I’m not sure exactly what to expect. I just need to make sure we work with our property owners and alert them as soon as we can if something happens,” says Jappe. 

The unpredictable nature of water and ice means the risk for flooding remains high in the coming days. A flood warning for the Missouri River near Williston remains in effect until late Sunday night.

For more information on conditions in your area, you can check the National Weather Service here

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