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Officials watch for flooding in eastern Nebraska as river ice melts
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Officials watch for flooding in eastern Nebraska as river ice melts

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Ice jams can cause flooding concerns as snow and ice start to melt.

Observers in eastern Nebraska will be keeping a close eye on area rivers for signs of flooding as a welcome warming trend begins to melt ice and snow.

“We’re just waiting to see how the snow will melt over the next couple of days,” said hydrologist David Pearson of the National Weather Service office in Valley. “We’ll be watching closely.”

The first week of March should see average highs in the mid-40s, warm enough to accelerate the melting of snow and ice, said Hallie Bova, a Valley-based weather service meteorologist. 

“How warm it gets kind of depends on how much snow melts,” Bova said. “It does look like we’ll have some more above-normal (temperature) days in early March.”

Pearson said observers will focus on the Platte River near Fremont, where ice jams already have occurred. An ongoing ice jam at Fremont is at the U.S. Highway 77 bridge and continues upstream for 2 to 3 miles, the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District reported.

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The ice on the Platte River near Valley measured 15 inches thick on Friday, said Jennifer Stauss Story, a spokeswoman for the Papio-Missouri River NRD. That could signify an increased potential for ice jams, she said.

“We’re a little concerned about the next couple of days,” Pearson said. “If it gets warm enough, that could mean a high (amount) of melt.”

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The weather service and other agencies will continue to monitor the river ice conditions and forecasts. Pearson said the hope is always for a slow melt with no — or very little — rain.

“There are no typical years (for ice melting),” Pearson said. “I’ve seen 2 feet of ice and nothing happened. We had a slow melt. Some years, there’s been very little ice and then flooding.”

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