We live in a pretty spectacular area of Montana, but along with the beauty of mountain streams, trees, and mountain trails once every 17 to 23 years we can experience some extreme weather. This past February we buffeted temperatures down to -25 degrees to -46 plus varying wind chills. Historically, this past February was the second coldest February recorded in Montana. The bitter cold does not last long, but long enough to allow the rivers that have not frozen to freeze over. This can be worrisome because of the floating ice chunks that when clumped together can cause ice jams which blocks the natural flow of a river. This blockage forces water to run out of the banks of the creeks and rivers causing major flooding.
The seemingly innocuous flowing streams and rivers we drive across can in an instant turn extremely dangerous. Please exercise caution and care when confronted with nature’s fury. We have seen ice jams from January through May as the freezing and thawing varies from year to year. Some years are far worse than others. These next couple of weeks could be precarious up down the Yellowstone, Stillwater and Rosebud drainages as Fishtail, MT has already experienced last week.
A very informative article on the ravage of Ice Jams was written through the Army Corps of Engineering follows: