Ice jam mess

Crews work to prevent flooding in Silver Creek

OBSERVER Photo by Jimmy McCarthy Pictured is a fast flowing Silver Creek.

SILVER CREEK — The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a flood warning Thursday morning at 8:15 due to ice jams in Walnut and Silver Creeks along Route 20.

The NWS said to expect rapid rises and falls in water levels today along both creeks as the ice jams work their way downstream through Silver Creek village toward Lake Erie.

Hanover’s Highway Superintendent Steve D’Angelo told the OBSERVER that the Silver Creek fire department, along with county and state emergency teams working at the site of the most concentrated ice buildup near the fire hall, will soon be employing the use of a large excavator.

The excavator arrived Thursday evening from Rochester and will be expected to be put to use today.

“It’s got a 100-foot boom, so it can reach out farther,” said D’Angelo. “The machinery we’re using now has only a 40-foot reach.”

OBSERVER Photo by Jimmy McCarthy Emergency crews direct traffic away from a section of Main Street between Route 5 and Parkway Street due to ice jamming.

D’Angelo said the excavators are being used, in part, to break up the ice jams so the creek can send the debris along into the lake. They’re also being used to dig out channels.

“The county dug a channel down by the fire house,” D’Angelo said.

The past week saw a rapid rise in temperatures after a considerable cold period turned the top creek layers to ice. The sudden thawing “makes the water come up over the banks” because the ice jams “create a big dam,” explained D’Angelo.

The real concern now is how the ice jams will affect Hanford Bay and Sunset Bay.

“Once we get done with Silver Creek, usually about twelve hours later, it’s Hanford and Sunset Bay,” said D’Angelo. “Up towards Perrysburg, that’s where the ice is by the bridge in Versailles. It’s broke up but not moving. It will come down to Hanford Bay and Sunset Bay.”

OBSERVER Photo by Jimmy McCarthy Flooding caused a mess at Oliver Place in Silver Creek on Thursday.

If this happens, causing more ice jams, D’Angelo said to expect the water to wash over the streets. Residents in Hanford and Sunset will be evacuated prior to such an occurrence, D’Angelo said.

“Rain will be the big push (for the ice)”, said D’Angelo. “It depends on how much rain we get.”

In other weather news, the NWS issued a winter storm warning in effect from 1 p.m. Friday to 1 p.m. Saturday.

According tot he storm warning, residents of Chautauqua and southern Erie counties should expect freezing rain and sleet Friday afternoon turning to heavy snow Friday evening through Saturday morning.

Travel will be very difficult, including a slippery Friday evening commute. The NWS is reporting an expected accumulation o f six to 12 inches and ice accumulations of up to one tenth of an inch.