Ice piles up

WOLFHURST – Old Man Winter has his grip on the Ohio Valley, evident where an ice jam has blocked Wheeling Creek across from the Bridgeport High School.

Belmont County Emergency Management Director David Ivan said a break could affect Goosetown near Riesbeck’s. He added that he has received no other reports of ice jams yet, but suspects there may be minor ice jams in unpopulated areas.

“We won’t be getting a thaw this week,” he said. “Right now those ice jams are not going anywhere.”

Ivan heard a report from the National Weather Service in advance of Wednesday’s heavy rain and snow.

“How this will affect us is depending on how this precipitation falls,” he said. “We’re going to get anywhere from a half inch to an inch and a half of precipitation over nine hours. We don’t know if it’s all going to be rain, if it’s all going to be snow, they don’t even know.”

Ivan said the creek could handle an inch and a half during a long period of time.

He added that the people in the range of the jam have been notified and will call 911 in the event of an emergency.

“We’ve been in contact with them. They know that if that thing starts to move, they’re first call is to 911,” he said, noting that the fire department will be quickly dispatched. “There’s not a lot you can do with an ice jam, other than get out of the way.”

Ivan said there was no telling how many feet the creek would rise. He would be in contact with the Engineer’s office if the ice moved.

He spoke about the county’s abundance of water.

“It’s amazing how much water is in this county with all the creeks and streams,” he said, adding that the residents who live along the creeks were familiar with these circumstances. “They’re old school at this. They’ve dealt with it before. The only big difference between an ice jam flooding and flash flooding is an ice jam happens right nowwith flash flooding, you see it coming. You never know when an ice jam’s going to catch.”

Other concerns include power lines and trees.

“You put an inch of ice out there, it guarantees problems. That affects a lot of people,” Ivan said, adding that the weather should ease by sun-up on Wednesday, but the county would still have to prepare for the weekend weather.

“I can’t recall having a winter like this since the 70s,” he said. “The last time we’ve dealt with the amount of cold.”

He noted that snowfall totals for the county were high. Although there have been no six or eight inch snowfalls, the frequency has taken a toll.

Residents are asked to call 911 immediately should an ice block be noted. Although there is little that officials can do, the ice jam will be monitored.

DeFrank can be reached at rdefrank@timesleaderonline.com