The ice is back, and it’s filling the newsites and blogosphere with echoes of the 1980s. Happily it has nothing to do with a certain rapper.
No, the St. Clair River is once again stoppered by a miles-long ice jam. The last time the river was this backed up was 1984. That ice jam was 20 miles long and blocked the passage for 24 days. It was recently eyed as one of the causes for Lake Huron’s falling water levels.
The new ice jam is considerably shorter (a measly 9 miles) and the ice cutters are already racing to the rescue. Still, ice jams can damage a river bed in a relatively short period of time. The river water forced under the ice cover is moving fast.
Remember when you were a kid playing with the garden hose and you covered half the opening with your thumb and then chased your siblings around with the super-powered water spout? Yeah. It’s something like that. Only instead of terrorizing children, the water is scraping the river bottom clean of sediment and generally messing things up.
I don’t know when we’ll know the environmental fall-out from this ice jam, but I doubt the river will escape unscathed.
UPDATE: Here’s an idea for fixing the ice jam: cover it with coal ash like they do in Nebraska. Heavy metals are also essential nutrients, after all. Thanks to the always sharp Andrew Norman for scouting this out!