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National Weather Service Recruting Volunteer River Monitors

Local News

One of the tasks the National Weather Service performs is monitoring rivers for ice.

Ice can cause rivers to back up and flood.

The weather service recruits volunteers to keep an eye on bridges and is looking for volunteers to watch rivers around here.

Meteorologist Jim Brewster oversees the river monitoring. “We’re looking for river ice spotters to keep an eye on the rivers because obviously during the winter season, I think that most people who live near the rivers know this – ice can be a pretty big problem as rivers freeze up and especially as we get to spring they can jam up along the bridges.”

Brewster hopes to find observers for the Tioughnioga River – perhaps in Marathon or McGraw, and for Fall Creek and downtown Ithaca streams. “The Tioughnioga, The Otselic, Fall Creek, Six Mile going into the Ithaca area, even up into Cayuga County, looking at the Inlets going into (Owasco) the lake there,” said Brewster. “All of those are very important to us.”

Monitoring ice requires the human touch. “Ice is still one of those things that you still have to get eyes on, and kind of boots on the ground and have people taking a look at the conditions and making sure that the ice flows aren’t piling up and causing water problems.”

Meteorologist Jim Brewster hopes to find observers for the Tioughnioga River – perhaps in Marathon or McGraw, and for Fall Creek and downtown Ithaca streams. “I’ve had people in Marathon, I’m not sure, I have to check to see if the guy’s reported this year.”

The weather service provides training material for volunteers. “It’s not too difficult, but there are certain terms and issues that we look for,” said Brewster. “Just by reading that material they get, some knowledge on how to make a report that’s going to be meaningful.”

Spotters will learn the meaning of the term Frazzle. Yes. Frazzle. “It’s an interesting term. But it’s really just all that slushy conglomerate of ice floating down the river. We call it Frazzle.”

Go with the flow, watch a river near you.

If interested, please send a note via e-mail to Service Hydrologist: Jim Brewster with your contact information. You will be contacted to discuss an appropriate observing location and other information and training.

Note: The National Weather Service is mainly focusing on main stem rivers for routine ice monitoring. You can always report an ice jam to us on the smaller streams and tributaries through e-mailFacebook and Twitter.

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