Why River Ice Spotters?
The National Weather Service (NWS) is responsible for the issuance of river forecasts and flood warnings. We rely heavily on a network of river gages owned and operated primarily by the U.S. Geological Survey. During the colder months, ice jams can result in flash flooding. However, ice jams are typically localized and river gage readings do not always accurately indicate what is occurring when ice is involved. For accurate ice assessment, one needs to know information such as the extent of the existing ice cover, if there are any open areas, has the ice begun to breakup…etc. This information can only be obtained by visual observations.
What qualifications are required?
No special qualifications are required other than living or working near a river and a willingness to report river and ice conditions. Access to the internet is preferred. We may also have a need to contact you directly as well. Prospective new ice spotters are required to attend a training session or review ice spotter training instructions.
What kind of information will I be reporting?
The information could include observations of river freeze-up, percent of ice cover, or if the ice cover is beginning to break. High priority would be given to reports of ice jam formation, breakup of an ice jam, or ice jam flooding. Observations are requested every Monday morning during the December to March ice season or whenever existing conditions change from their previous report.
Safety is important! All visual observations of ice conditions will be done from a safe location only. Under no circumstances should ice spotters venture out on the ice to take an observation.
Join the NWS Chicago Ice Spotter Team
if you are interested in becoming a river ice spotter, please contact Bill Morris, Hydrologist with the NWS Chicago office. Include your name, address, and phone number. Contact: William.email@example.com or phone 815-834-0600 x493.
Ice Spotters are Especially Needed in the Following Areas: