Feb 09 2009
Raccoon Creek was quiet and ice covered. After weeks of bitter cold weather I was enjoying a day of 55-degree temperatures at the Wildflower Reserve. There weren’t many birds yesterday but it was nice to be outdoors.
I watched the muddy water flow through an ice-free channel while I ate my lunch. After two warm days the creek was high and made soft gurgling sounds as it passed under the remaining ice. Peaceful.
Then crack! Boom! Upstream a large slab of ice broke free, crashed into a submerged tree and jammed. More ice joined it, spinning in the flow. The pressure cause a big section to break free and scrape the shoreline with an ugly tearing sound.
Chunks from the breakup floated down to a small jam in front of me. When they reached the blockage their back ends tipped down, their noses tipped up, they flipped over, submerged and were sucked under the ice sheet. I watched them pop out on the other side and bob downstream.
This was fun, but it didn’t last long. The entire channel soon filled with ice. The water rose rapidly and flooded the shore, then the ice rose too, buckled and broke. Jam and break, break and jam. The amazing thing was that all this action was water against water: liquid against frozen.
I’m glad the episode at Raccoon Creek was small. This morning’s news reported an ice jam on Neshannock Creek in Lawrence County where three people were rescued from the rising water.
(photo of an ice jam on Raccoon Creek on February 8, 2009, by Kate St. John)