WF Fire Department warns of unsafe ice conditions on the Sheyenne River

Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 11:43 AM CST
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WEST FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - The West Fargo Fire Department is warning people to stay off the Sheyenne River as water levels are expected to rise. On Monday, January 23, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is increasing outflow from Baldhill Dam.

The water released from Baldhill Dam enters the Sheyenne River as it travels through West Fargo, which causes unsafe ice conditions. The fire department says even a relatively small change in water levels can disrupt ice formation with little to no visible signs on the surface.

“There is no such thing as safe ice,” said Dan Fuller, West Fargo Fire Chief. “Due to constantly changing conditions, the Sheyenne River should never be walked on or used for recreational activities after it ices over.”

Snowpack recently measured in the Baldhill Dam drainage area indicates an increased potential for spring flooding. The change in the outflow will lower the reservoir to create additional room for spring runoff. Additional adjustments may occur as the spring melt approaches.

The integrity and strength of ice on rivers are lowered by several factors, including layers of water flowing under the ice, daily temperature changes and changes to the speed of water flowing under the ice. Snow can also insulate the ice, impacting ice formation and hiding signs of unsafe ice.

If someone falls through the ice, call 911 immediately. The West Fargo Fire Department has specialized equipment and training to respond safely to these situations.