Mohawk River Ice Jam Monitoring

Science Center Objects

The Mohawk River between New York State Barge Canal Locks 7 and 8 near Schenectady, NY is susceptible to ice jams during periods of river-ice break-up. Ice jams in this reach typically form at channel constrictions, bridge piers, lock and dam structures, and sections with a reduced floodplain (Foster and others, 2011). Ice jam related flooding can result from backwater associated with the jam or from water released downstream when a jam fails. Schenectady is particularly vulnerable to ice jam related flooding; Lederer and Garver (2001) estimated that 80% of historic Mohawk River floods in Schenectady have been associated with winter snowmelt and associated ice floes.

In cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Mohawk River Basin Program, the New York State Power Authority, Brookfield Renewable Power, and Union College, USGS is monitoring river elevation at four streamgages between Locks 7 and 8. A web camera installed at a fifth location, between the gages, in the Stockade District of Schenectady, provides real-time images of the river during winter months.

Each station is now transmitting data every 15 minutes via the GOES satellite.

River Conditions - All times shown are EASTERN STANDARD  

These plots depict the difference in water elevation between what we observe and what we predict at a gage. Predictions are based on ice-free conditions, so when there is no ice in the river to restrict flow, the values are about zero. When the values rise during winter months, this usually indicates that ice in the river between the gages is restricting streamflow and causing water to backup. A positive value can be thought of as extra water stored in the river due to ice.
It is important to keep in mind that these plots generally reflect conditions between the gages. Ice jams occuring outside of the river-reach indicated (eg. Lock 8 - Freeman's Bridge) may not be reflected in the values shown.

River Elevation - All times shown are EASTERN STANDARD

Add 200 feet to the gage heights shown below to convert to feet above the National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929 (NGVD29). Data shown are PROVISIONAL and subject to revision.

PLEASE NOTE - NGVD29 is NOT the same as the New York State Barge Canal Datum. To approximate the NYS Barge Canal elevation add 201 feet to the values shown.

Emergency and Flood Information