A combination of weather conditions forced the US Coast Guard to pull out their icebreaking tugboats on the Connecticut River and begin clearing an enormous six-mile ice jam that was flooding parts of the state and causing some local officials to declare a state of emergency.
As temperatures dipped above and below freezing, and rainfall added to the depth of the river, the Hartford Currant reported that the town of Haddam, Connecticut was flooded.
Three 65-foot icebreaker tugs — Hawser, of Bayonne, N.J.; Bollard, of New Haven, Conn.; and Pendant, of Boston, Mass. — were sent to break through the ice blockade to the extent they could. They arrived just after 1:00 p.m. local time yesterday, slightly behind schedule.
Icebreaking efforts were complicated by fog and rain that made it impossible for icebreakers to rely on the the Connecticut Civil Air Patrol for aerial spotting, reports NBC Connecticut. However it happens, locals are eager to see the ice gone.
“With the rain and the changing of the temperature, hopefully it’ll start to loosen up and be on its way down the river,” one man told NBC. “Hopefully it’ll regress at a speed that won’t hold anything up.”
The 65-foot icebreaker tugs are the smaller cousins of the massive heavy icebreakers used to smash through ice floes in open water. The Coast Guard maintains a 399-foot heavy icebreaker, the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, and a 420 foot medium icebreaker, Coast Guard Cutter Healy. Like their cousins, the heavy icebreakers have reinforced hulls. They also boast specially-shaped bows to pry apart stubborn sheets of ice.