The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch until Saturday evening for northern New York due to rising temperatures and rains that are causing a significant snowmelt.
The combination of those factors can cause the breakup of river ice, leading to ice jams and flooding. Temperature were in the 50s Friday.
Officials in Essex County are monitoring the East Branch of the Ausable River in Upper Jay, a spot prone to ice jams. Machinery could be seen Friday afternoon clearing ice from the river behind the firehouse.
“We’re trying to keep that channel open,” said Chris Garrow, superintendent of the Essex County Department of Public Works.
Garrow said ice jams are his biggest concern right now. “If the ice lets go, it could pose a problem,” he said.
Large piles of river ice are already lining the river along state Route 9N in areas where crews removed the ice earlier this winter.
The Ausable River Association posted on its Facebook page that it is also monitoring the ice jam in Upper Jay.
“At this time, there is a 40 percent chance that flows will increase to minor flood stage – similar to the flooding of one month ago – just before 8 p.m. in Upper Jay,” the associated posted on its Facebook page today.
The post says ASRA is sharing info with the National Weather Service and U.S. Geological Survey to better inform their forecasts and will report any rises in the tributaries.