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The Observer Paper 12/22/14

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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Ice jam in Union is unchanged

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Ice jam in Union is unchanged

Cold weather preventing it from growing or busting loose 

The large ice jam on Catherine Creek about a half mile east of Union is in a holding pattern.

“It is the same size as it was (at the end of the week),” Union County Public Works Director Paul Phillips said this morning.

The ice blockage, about 120 yards long, is a major concern because when it breaks up it could cause flooding in Union by plugging up portions of Catherine Creek in town. 

This is not a concern in the immediate future because sub freezing temperatures are forecast Northeast Oregon for at least in the next the week, according to the National Weather Service.

“We will be fine until it warms up. Then we will have to wait and see what happens,” Phillips said.

The public works director said Catherine Creek’s water level above the ice jam and below it in Union has dropped since Friday. This reflects the freezing temperatures, which prevailed throughout the weekend. The water level will not rise until temperatures rise, causing a snow melt, or there is precipitation.

The ice blockage in Catherine Creek was brought on by a temperature inversion in late January. The inversion resulted in elevated temperatures at higher elevations. This caused snow and ice to melt, resulting in higher flows in Catherine Creek where freezing temperatures have prevailed. 

 Phillips said he hopes that if by chance there is a second temperature inversion that it would not cause additional ice to build up behind the blockage. This would make the ice jam a greater threat.

Union County and the City of Union are preparing for the possible flood which could result when the ice jam breaks up. Between six and seven pallets of sandbags have been brought in by Union County Emergency Services as part of this effort. 

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