Ice jams loosen up in AuSable Forks

Two big ice jams on the East Branch of the AuSable River have moved downstream from the community of AuSable Forks, alleviating flood concerns there.

Chris Garrow, superintendent of the town of Jay’s Department of Public Works, told the Enterprise Monday morning that two of his employees were still monitoring the river, but the ice jams had dislodged as of about 9:30 a.m. that day and begun moving downstream toward Clintonville.

“Everything is gone now,” Garrow said. “The one up by Stickney Bridge let go, and it went down through and it took the AuSable Forks one, and it’s all gone downstream right now.”

Garrow said town officials were concerned that the ice jams could have caused flooding at the confluence of the river’s east and west branches, near the Grand Union supermarket on Main Street in downtown AuSable Forks. He said the Jersey neighborhood – which was hit hard by floodwaters caused by 2011’s Tropical Storm Irene – was also threatened by flooding due to the ice jams.

The National Weather Service’s Burlington, Vt., headquarters issued a flood statement Monday morning, warning that ice jams were causing the AuSable River to increase its level to near flood stage. The East Branch’s gauge was at 6.9 feet Monday morning; flood stage is 7 feet.

Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas said the river’s East Branch was clear of ice jams in his town as of Monday afternoon.

“Everything from Upper Jay to AuSable Forks is good,” Douglas said. “We’re thrilled to death. We didn’t need another hit. There’s some high spots on the river, but I think as long as we don’t get a drastic warm-up, we should be fine.”

While skiers and snowboarders are crying foul over the recent warm weather, Douglas said a few mild winter thaws actually help alleviate spring flooding concerns in his community.

“If we get a lot of snow and we don’t have two or three thaws, all of that snow lets out at the same time,” he said.

Contact Chris Morris at 891-2600 ext. 25 or