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Ice Jam Flooding Could Be Worst Area Has Seen In 2 Decades

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Our three rivers are quickly becoming less flowing and more rock solid on the surface.

"We are seeing ice thickening of two to four inches overnight, and there are some places that have as much a six to eight inches of ice that has formed over the past several days," said Joe Palko, a National Weather Service hydrologist meteorologist.

And despite a glint of sun Friday, there is no temperature change on the horizon significant enough to stop the growing miles of river from doing their glacial impression.

"The ice is basically on the top and the water is flowing underneath," said Palko.

Already the ice crust is causing problems for barges on the Allegheny.

And not far from Pittsburgh, "the last report was for Cheswick, they weren't able to make it through," said Werner Loehlein, of the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers.

Meanwhile, on the Mon River things aren't much better.

"From Morgantown and up river from there, it's pretty much solid ice and we're even seeing ice form closer to Pittsburgh here near Elizabeth; so that's very unusual. We haven't seen that in 20 years," said Loehlein.

With no break in the cold expected for the next few weeks, no know knows how thick the ice might get.

"It could cause the potential of ice jam flooding when the weather pattern breaks and any precipitation comes in - that could cause some flooding," said Palko.

"If it were to happen very rapidly and we would have let's say the Allegheny and Mon flood at the same time, the City of Pittsburgh would have a pretty significant rise, perhaps on the order of '96," Loehlein said.

"[In] '96, we had ice jam flooding that caused Pittsburgh to get up to 31 feet," said Palko.

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