Going from a rainy 50°F (10°C) to -20° (-28.9°C) and back in a week must surely qualify as a Weather Event. Streams and rivers swelled, then froze, then swelled again. The ice sheet on the lake groaned as the water beneath it rose and fell but the spillway system functioned and the flow continued on its merry way downhill.
With dozens of tributaries flowing into the valley below, ice broke up on the river, churning in the current, banging its way downstream. Finally jumping its banks, the river fanned out on a floodplain and dropped its load. As on a conveyor belt, thousands of ice slabs piled in from behind and before you could say, “Robert is your father’s brother,” an old-fashioned ice jam had formed.
A picture of a hand for some scale:
Also for scale, a log:
Slabs of ice, weighing thousands of pounds each, take their toll on bridges, guardrails and everything else in their path.
Water wells up where it can, flowing through and around.
Several days later the whole mess continued to shift and grind but, even if it hadn’t been moving, walking among the slabs would have been a dicey proposition.
As Tropical Storm Irene reminded us few years ago, water has tremendous power. Ice jams in winter are capable of causing similar destruction, but colder and with bigger projectiles. Still, within all that randomness, there is some order.
It was twenty below a week ago but the sap will be running in earnest soon. The roads are getting soft and Town Meeting is ten days away. Giant floating ice chunks simply add to the charm of one of Vermont’s most delightful seasons!