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Deep freeze, northerly winds are a dangerous mix for St. Clair River and residents

Posted at 5:15 PM, Jan 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 19:51:11-04

(WXYZ) — We know it’s cold. We can see it with the big ice chunks that have formed on the St. Clair River. The shipping channel had to be cleared for Great Lakes freighters that travel from Detroit to Lake Huron and beyond. One freighter was stuck in the ice a few days ago.

Strong northerly winds can push the ice onto the shore, create high water, and cause flooding in Marine City, East China, and Algonac.

Last year homes and yards were flooded. Basements had a half-foot of water.

Some good news, water levels are down this year by as much as 20 inches. And a wall of ice has built up near the Bluewater Bridge in Port Huron that can block the bombarding ice from being pushed down and cause flooding.

Justin Westmiller is the St. Clair County Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and tells 7 Action News, there have been no major issues so far. People who live on the shoreline are being urged to put up sandbags as a precaution.

He also says while they need to keep the shipping channel open if they cut through too much ice that can create more ice and more problems.

In Algonac, the ferry to Harsens Island is operating with an open channel. The ferry is used to cut the ice. The water has frozen over a few times this year and that can strand the thousands of people who live on the island. People say they’ve learned to stock up and watch the weather.

That will continue over the next several weeks.