Vermont Officials Keep Eye on Montpelier Ice Jam for Flood Risk

February 12, 2007

Vermont state and city officials continue to monitor a growing ice jam on the Winooski River in Montpelier and warn that the threat of flooding may increase with future weather.

An ice jam formed downstream of the city and caused minor flooding of basements last month.

Since then state and local emergency officials said they have been monitoring the river level and plan to install devices that will track pressure and movement of the ice.

The Public Works Department plans to use a crane and excavator to keep part of the river open to prevent the buildup of water and ice.

The threat of flooding is low during the next week but weather conditions in the next few weeks could increase the risk, officials said. Flooding could occur if a month of cold weather is followed by a quick spring thaw.

“At this time there is no reliable indication of long term weather patterns and how they will impact the river,” City Manager Bill Fraser said. “People are urged to take immediate steps to protect their properties and valuables and minimize losses.”

Emergency crews advised property owners and residents to remove valuable items from the basement and lower rooms, make sure furnaces and fuel tanks are secured, and consider buying flood insurance.

“We don’t want people to panic because it might turn into nothing, but if people can take some preventative actions, then they should,” Fraser said.

Officials want to prevent a repeat of 1992 when an ice jam caused the river to flood the capitol’s downtown, ruining ground-floor businesses and offices.

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