A series of ice jams along the Kankakee River is causing major flooding concerns in numerous suburban communities.
A River Flood Warning is currently in effect in Kankakee, Will, and Grundy counties in Illinois, as well as Newton County in northwest Indiana.
The worst of the flooding is occurring near Wilmington, located in Will County. The city is bisected by the Kankakee River, which is currently more than four feet above flood stage due to ice jams that have formed near bridges in the area.
Several roads and structures have already been impacted by the flooding, and the National Weather Service says that more flooding is possible as the weather warms up and the ice begins to thaw, threatening to release even more water downstream.
Ice Jams Create Dramatic Scenes Along Kankakee River
The river is currently at flood stage between Wilmington and the confluence of the Kankakee and Illinois Rivers in Grundy County.
To help control ice jams on the river, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency are working with Exelon Corporation to discharge warm water from the cooling ponds at the Dresden Nuclear Power Station, located in suburban Morris, into the river.
As part of normal operations, the Dresden Power Station pulls water from the river, but instead of discharging a portion of the water into the Illinois River, the water will be put into the Kankakee River.
The strategy has no anticipated impact on aquatic life, given the flow of the Kankakee River, according to the agencies.
There is also minor flooding due to an ice jam near Momence, located in Kankakee County. The river is currently eight inches above flood stage in those locations, impacting mostly low-lying areas between the jam and the confluence of the Kankakee and Iroquois Rivers in Aroma Park.
In Newton County, the river has just reached flood stage, impacting low-lying areas.
The National Weather Service warns that ice jams can result in rapid fluctuations in water levels with little to no warning, and advises residents to be vigilant as the weather warms up over the weekend. Rainfall, which is in the forecast for the weekend, could also exacerbate the flooding, as it collects on frozen ground and helps to accelerate snow melt.