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Gallatin River Tsunami

January 31, 2013
Author: Trouts Staff

This recent video from the Gallatin River in Montana caught our attention. 

"How did you know this was going to happen?"

"I was passing by on the way to Big Sky. It must have started 10 minutes earlier. I drove by a section of the stream and saw a brown roiled mess from bank to bank. I drove down stream and found people on a bridge, watching the ice pass under them. I continued down until I was in front of the ice. Lucky - right. I used my I-Phone."

We've never seen anything like this before.  You?

Posted in |   8 Comments


#1. Posted by Nate on January 31, 2013

yeah, I’ve seen this happen while steelhead fishing on Walnut Creek in Erie, PA.  The lake winds freeze the water over, then once they thaw and break up, the ice chucks pile up at the railroad tubes.  Eventually the ice dams would break and exactly what happened in the video occurred.  Except in that instance, a fisherman came sprinting downstream yelling “ice jam break!” and all 100-200 people on the stream bolted out of the water.  20 minutes later, myself and a bunch of other fishermen went wading through the ice eddies freeing the trapped steelhead and getting them to open water.  It was absolutely surreal.  I’ll never forget it.

#2. Posted by Will Rice on January 31, 2013

That’s an amazing story Nate.  Thanks for sharing it.  Sounds like something like this might have happened on the Roaring Fork here in CO recently.

#3. Posted by Fred on February 1, 2013

Was it the Fork or the Pan, Will?

#4. Posted by Fred on February 1, 2013

Damned impressive video. Glad we did not see bodies of any kind coming down

#5. Posted by Will Rice on February 1, 2013

Not sure, that was based on some comments over on our Facebook page.

#6. Posted by j on February 1, 2013

Yep, it happened on the Roaring Fork a lil’ while back..

#7. Posted by Will Rice on February 1, 2013

Thanks J.  I missed this story completely.  Sounds like a close call for sure.  This gives anyone who is planning a winter fishing trip on a river something to think about.  Here is an excerpt from the Aspen Times story:

“A fisherman was on the stretch of the Roaring Fork River between the confluence with the Fryingpan River and Old Pond Park when the surge of water and ice rushed through, said Basalt Sgt. Penny Paxton. The angler reported that he was roughly 10 feet into the water, off the bank, she said.

“He said, ‘I looked up and saw a wall of water coming at me,’” Paxton said.

Full story:

The fisherman was knocked off his feet but was able to make his way to the bank. Fortunately he had a wader belt, designed to keep water out. He was bruised, cut and very cold after getting wet but otherwise unharmed, according to Paxton.”

#8. Posted by Nate on February 1, 2013

Will, yeah I was in Basalt shortly after the jam break there.  The Pan below two rivers bridge was still iced over and above those apt’s upriver on the Fork was still running clear so I’m thinking the break occurred just upriver from the confluence.  7-11 bridge perhaps?

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