The White River roared to life at 9 p.m. in downtown WRJ
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - An ice jam that began above West Hartford on the White River sent water over a stretch of Route 14 near the Tigertown Road intersection, forcing police to close it north and south of the West Hartford Bridge for about an hour Friday evening.
Problems began around 8 p.m. and Hartford police officers reported deep water over some sections of the rural highway right in West Hartford's tiny village core along with concerns about the volume of ice jamming up in the river.
In downtown White River Junction, residents gathered for the 13th Annual Christmas Tree Burn at the Main Street Museum and were listening to a Cajun dance band and having cocktails, gumbo and King Cake on the deck when the distinct sounds of swelling ice could be heard as an escalating series of Styrofoam-like snapping and popping noises until suddenly, just after 9 p.m., the ice on the river gave way in a freight train roar downstream toward the Connecticut River.
The White River rose several feet in a matter of minutes and looked like a conveyor of ice racing along for nearly an hour as members of the Cajun band "Bayou X", most of whom had no idea what an ice jam was, rushed out to take pictures with their phones to send back to their friends in places like Georgia and Texas.
Residents in nearby houses could see lamps and furnishings shaking and strong vibrations could be felt on the Lehman Bridge when especially large ice chunks slammed into the piers beneath. The wave of flowing ice quickly de-escalated the situation upstream in West Hartford and Route 14 was back open to traffic within the hour. The river stayed well within its banks in downtown White River Junction and an hour after the flow began it stopped cold with a solidified surface of now thoroughly crushed ice.
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