Officials keep eye on river

The river is rising, but falling temperatures should slow down any potential for ice jams and flooding, according to local officials.
Becky Vargo
Jan 15, 2014

“With the recent thaw, water levels rose 1.5 feet over the weekend,” noted Grand Haven Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke. “The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Management and Grand Haven Department of Public Safety are monitoring Grand River water levels.”

The National Weather Service showed the river's level at Robinson Township at 11.1 inches as of 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. Flood stage there is 13.3 feet.

Ottawa County Emergency Services Director Beth Thomas said the rise in water levels has been a slow one, mostly due to the rain and weekend thaw.

“If it gets cold again, the ice freezes up again and flooding becomes less of a concern,” she said.

National Weather Service meteorologist Brandon Hoving said there needs to be temperatures in the 50s with sunshine and maybe rain to cause the hazardous flooding conditions normally seen in the fall or spring. The recent thaw was enough to thin and open the ice up in some areas, but the river is mostly ice covered, and “the ice coverage should expand and get thicker as we go through the week,” he said.

Thomas said problems occur when the ice breaks apart upriver, and then gets jammed up in the river bends when it comes downstream.

There will usually be a much faster rise in water levels than what has occurred over the past few days.

Hoving said the forecast for the area, both short- and long-range, calls for fairly typical January temperatures and precipitation. A few rounds of snow are expected in the Grand Haven area with some lake-effect snow and occasional accumulation at times, he said.

“Wax up the skis,” Hoving said.

Residents can sign up for National Weather Service flood alerts at www.focusonfloods.org/flood-alerts.

You can monitor the river levels via NOAA Watch at www.noaawatch.gov/floods.php.

For information on how to prepare for a flood, go to www.ready.gov/floods.

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