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Watching The Icy Delaware River

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DELAWARE RIVER -- New concerns are being raised about the frozen Delaware River and what could happen if we get a sudden thaw and rain over the weekend.

People along the river remember all too well when the same kind of thing happened back in 1996.

McMichael’s Creek eventually feeds into the Delaware River. If the Delaware River swells it causes a backup to creeks and streams like McMichael’s Creek.

All eyes are on the ice-covered Delaware River as Monroe County emergency officials wait to see how quickly the ice melts and where it goes.

All kinds of jagged shapes and sizes of ice chunks are poking out of the Delaware. At Kittatinny Point near the Delaware Water Gap, a set of stairs would have led to a beach and then the river. The only proof the ice-covered area is a beach is a sign warning "no lifeguards."

The ice-sealed river attracted the attention of Aina Rathbun and her husband.

"I took some of the ice flows clumped together at one spot,” she said, describing her photos.

Down the river a bit, Edie Buckner was training her dog Sydney how to herd sheep. She recalls the last time seeing the Delaware River look ice-covered like this was back in the 1990s.

"I remember going down to Smithfield Beach and the ice was piled up on the beach," Buckner said.

Video from Skycam 16 back then shows nearby Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort surrounded by floating chunks of ice.

"The river had frozen and there were huge, huge chunks of ice that had crumpled up on the beach," Buckner recalled.

But things were different back in 1996, according to the National Weather Service. A blizzard left a lot of snow on the ground, temperatures rose, and there was heavy rain which caused the river to swell.

But today, most of the snow has already melted.

The Delaware River is starting to move and the massive slabs of ice started crashing into each other. The park service is carefully monitoring that ice to see what it does next.

Bystanders are concerned about what they are seeing.

"There's ice jams here already so when they break up, which is this weekend, probably, when it hits the 40's maybe even 50's, it could be very dangerous down there,” Rathbun said.

Stormtracker 16 meteorologists and the National Weather Service say areas prone to getting ice jams in the past should keep a watchful eye on the Delaware River over the weekend.


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