My Very Own Ice Dam!

....Or a Mini Glacier, Maybe

I have long been fascinated – what would you expect from a sci-fi fan? – with the megafloods . Catastrophic floods have carved canyons, rivers, lakes and even seas. Imagine the spectacle of billions of gallons of water, acre feet per second, thundering across the landscape with inconceivable force, making tsunamis seem tame. These colossal events have happened at the end of every ice age when giant lakes of melt water are unleashed by the failure of the large ice dams that created them.

That is some scientist’s conception of what the ice dam looked like that released the flood that created the Western Washington badlands. Big deal flood. Not as big as the one that created the Mediterranean or the huge one that flushed out the Great Lakes, but pretty darn big.

Anyway, fascinating, no? Biblical at least.

Now I have my very own ice dam.

Hard to photograph, at least for me. But after over 70 inches of snow over two months, the melt/re-freeze process on my roof has created an 11 inch high ice dam, starting in the bottom of my north gutters and forming an aerodynamic sort of shape of compacted snow turned to clear ice.

Here’s its cross section.

In some ways my rooftop ice dam is more like a glacier in Greenland than a Paleolithic Hoover Dam. There is no body of water behind it searching for a flaw to rush through to carve a catastrophic failure. Rather, there is a flow of water beneath the dam. These last few days have reached the balmy mid-forties. The crystallized snow upslope on the roof is melting. I can hear the water splashing into my full cisterns.

I’m trying to destroy the dam, from right to left, up-gutter to down-gutter, with a hatchet. All without damaging the metal roof or the gutter itself.

I hope to install a grid of electrical resistance cables before the next onslaught of this El Nino winter – or next year’s. With climate change grinding on, who knows how long the little boy of the Pacific will stay warm?

Next winter, I’ll report how this project is going. I might save the stucco yet.


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