Weather service renews flood warning in Will and Grundy counties amid ice jams

The National Weather Service renewed an indefinite flood warning Sunday morning along the Kankakee River in Will and Grundy counties as historic ice jams continue in the region.

NWS meteorologists warned that streets and roads in low-lying areas could remain inundated with water and ice. Flooding levels hovered at 9.9 feet Sunday morning but had previously hit more than 13 feet.

“We’re not necessarily seeing water levels significantly drop or recede right now,” said meteorologist David King.

On Wednesday, officials announced a disaster declaration in unincorporated Will County and Wilmington. Water levels exceeded previous extreme flooding events in 2021, 2019 and 1985, according to a news release.

“Our team will remain on the ground with local officials to monitor conditions until the ice fully melts,” Allison Anderson, the director of the county’s Emergency Management Agency, said in a statement.

Will County officials also said Thursday that Dresden Energy Center, a nuclear power plant in Morris, would activate siphons to release warm water into the river. The siphons could help accelerate the melting process and alleviate flooding.

“By opening all three lines of warm water into the river, we can begin melting the historic levels of ice that has created a public safety risk for nearby residents,” County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant said in a statement. “This is a crucial step to safeguard lives and protect property in communities along the river.”

The most significant ice jam appeared to be located upstream of the Grundy-Will county line near Wilmington, according to the weather service. An additional ice jam is located in Kankakee County near the village of Sun River Terrace, King said.

Residents along the river, particularly in low-lying areas, are advised to be prepared to evacuate until the ice jams fully clear. It’s still unclear how long the flood warnings and ice jams will remain in place, especially because it’s difficult to estimate the depth of ice, King said.

“Through the course of the week, we might have high temperatures in the low 40s which will help it,” King said. “But for the foreseeable future, we expect it to remain in place.”