Morgan, Muskingum County residents carefully watching water levels

An Ice Jam is forming on the Muskingum River, threatening to flood the area (Bill Oldani/WBNS-10TV)

Residents along the Muskingum and Morgan County lines are carefully watching the water levels on the Muskingum River.

"I’ve never seen an ice jam as big as this one is," said Bill Ballenger, who has lived in the area all his life.

Saturday, the National Weather Service in Charleston, West Virginia, issued a weather alert about ice causing the river to rise.

"There’s even a boat sitting out on top of it," said Ballenger of the icy waterway. "It’s already taken out from its dock."

According to a Facebook post by the Morgan County EMA and OHS, “the recent heavy rainfall and milder weather has caused large chunks of ice to move down the Muskingum River, and has become briefly jammed up at times. While no known flooding has occurred or is occurring, this could cause quick rises on the river that could be hazardous, even if the river does not reach flood or bankfull stage. People should stay away from river banks during this time of unpredictability.

Kenny Hewitt has also lived in the area for decades. He says he hasn't seen anything like this since the blizzard of 1978.

"I think that thing is going to break loose before a couple of days," Hewitt said.

Hewitt says when it breaks it will take everything thing on the ice with it.

"It’s just going to tear everything loose. Boat docks, boats and whatever’s in the river ... whatever anybody left in the river," he said.

Muskingum and Morgan County officials say they are monitoring the waterway. Below is a list of alerts to look out for.

*A warning is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, imminent or likely.

*A watch is used when the risk of a hazardous weather or hydrologic event has increased significantly, but its occurrence, location or timing is still uncertain.

*An advisory is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, imminent or likely.

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