A Vermont Nature Story on the Lamoille River

Barbara and I are in Vermont for some weeks this winter, and last week we witnessed how an ice jam causes flooding during late winter rains, which then created a remarkable winter scene. The story occurred in north central Vermont on the Lamoille River, which is about 85 miles long and drains a watershed of roughly 700 square miles. The river begins in eastern Vermont and flows generally west into Lake Champlain.

Here’s a short version of the story:

In mid-February, bitter cold weather froze the land and most of the rivers, including the Lamoille. Then it warmed and rained hard for two days (about 2.1 inches on Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 24 and 25) this past week. The water flowed across the frozen landscape to the streams and rivers, but an ice jam somewhere in the Lamoille must have dammed things up. (The Lamoille River valley is flat and the river meanders like the Mississippi; it even has oxbow lakes.)

The river water spread out and flooded the surrounding fields like a spill on a countertop. State highway VT 15 near Cambridge flooded. Friday night and Saturday morning were cold, and ice formed around trees and tall weeds when the water was high. Then, maybe overnight Friday, some of the ice jam must have broken and the river began to quickly drain. As the river receded, ice clung to its supports, forming rings of ice around trees and flat sheets suspended in mid-air.

This ice story on the Lamoille is unusual. Several Vermonters stopped to take pictures, as I did, and they remarked that they had not seen this before.

Sunday we again drove to the river, and the water level had receded another foot or two. Much of the suspended ice had fallen to the ground or into the river. The story was heading toward its end.

Below are about 15 photos in a gallery showing some of the story. Please click on the first photo to enter the gallery.