1848: Ice jam causes Niagara Falls to run dry


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According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, ice jams on bodies of water are caused by melting snow and ice in the springtime. Warm temperatures and spring rains cause snow and ice to melt very rapidly. All this extra water causes frozen rivers and streams to swell up, and the layer of ice on top of the river begins to break up. The rushing river carries large chunks of ice downstream, and sometimes a group of ice chunks get stuck in a narrow passage of a river or stream. The ice chunks form an ice jam or ice dam, that blocks the natural flow of the river. Ice jams can be dangerous for people living in towns nearby. Because the river is blocked, the rushing water has nowhere to go and it can cause flooding in the surrounding area. On March 29th, 1848 a very unusual ice jam formed. Centered on that day for about 24 hours, Niagara Falls ran dry. The Niagara River was reduced to a trickle as a massive ice jam formed near Buffalo. Strong winds has blown ice from Lake Erie into the River entrance and completely blocked it. It was only when the ice shifted the next day that the water resumed its flow over the falls.

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