Ice-jam season has returned to Roaring Fork River, could release through the winter months
An ice jam advisory has been issued for the Roaring Fork River and means water levels could quickly rise this weekend through portions of Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin counties.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration Friday issued the advisory, which will remain in effect until 2:15 p.m. Sunday.
According to the advisory, conditions exist for ice jam releases along the Roaring Fork River from Snowmass Canyon to Glenwood Springs.
As of Friday morning, the National Weather Service in Grand Junction said no ice jam releases had occurred, but that conditions are prime for them through Sunday afternoon.
“Those really cold temperatures and then warming up really quickly, that just makes those conditions favorable for those releases,” said Meteorologist Megan Stackhouse with the National Weather Service.
Although a rare occurrence, the breakage of an ice dam can push rushing water carrying sheets of ice and debris through narrow river channels.
According to the advisory, anyone on or near the Roaring Fork River should “use extreme caution” through Sunday afternoon.
Earlier this week, the Roaring Fork Conservancy in Basalt issued its own alert due to favorable ice jam release conditions.
“Nothing materialized this week,” Rick Lofaro, Roaring Fork Conservancy executive director, said of the advisory set to expire Sunday afternoon. “The possibility still exists.”
Officials hoped this weekend’s forecasted cooler temperatures would reduce the chances of an ice jam release, but asked river users — particularly anglers — to still use extreme caution.
Last winter, there were a couple of ice jams that released on the river. From Dec. 15, 2018, to Jan. 10, 2019, there were six breaks, according to the Roaring Forck Conservancy. A couple of them were caught on video and gained nearly 130,000 views.
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