As more arctic air nears, massive ice jams wreck property across Midwest

WILMINGTON, Ill. -- A new blast of arctic air is driving across the northern United States, and adding to the cold weather problems are ice jams.

Considerable damage has already been done in Tippecanoe County, Ind., where buckling ice from Wildcat Creek ran wild, literally plowing trees and wrecking property.

Video from Ohio last week captured the speed and strength of an ice jam on the move, and many in the region are now fearing a similar fate.

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On the shoreline of the Kankakee River in Illinois, the ice threatens to keep coming.
Jake Barlow/CBS News
 On the shoreline of the Kankakee River in Illinois, the ice has creeped over the bank and threatens to keep coming.

"This is probably 12 feet from the river's edge, and look at it -- it's like just mass destruction. You can't stop the ice," said Steve Highbaugh, who has lived along the Kankakee River for a quarter century.

Highbaugh's property is in danger of being pulverized both by the ice and the flooding that could follow.

The combination of the thaw and rain late last week got the ice going. Even when it appears motionless, it's generating dangerous pressure on infrastructure, and the water underneath could quickly reroute sideways to get around the jam, causing flooding.

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CBS News correspondent stands on a massive sheet of ice in the Kankakee River.
Jake Barlow/CBS News
 "We are looking at something that looks very still and very calm right now, but at any time it could cause massive problems with the break-up and start flowing," said Trent Thompson, chief of operations for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

Residents along the river are watching it closely, knowing that the next move it makes could force them from their homes.

As for what's in the forecast, chief meteorologist Eric Fisher at CBS Boston station WBZ says the arctic air will be dropping south over the next three days. By Thursday, lows will be in the teens and 20s in Texas and across the deep South on Friday.  


 

  • Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.

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