National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

The National Weather Service (NWS) Chicago/Rockford, IL, office uses information from volunteer spotters along area rivers to monitor the development of river ice which may lead to flooding. Ice jams are often localized and may occur away from river gauges. River ice spotters share important information such as extent of ice cover, ice cover trends, and location of ice jams which is very important for issuing timely warnings.

Map of active river ice spotters for the 2019-2020 winter season.


No special qualifications are required other than living near the river and a willingness to report river and ice conditions.


Reporting Ice Observations

A Google form is used to enter routine reports. For time-sensitive information such as ice jam formation, ice jam break-up, or flooding, we provide a non-public number to call. Reports are requested from all spotters at the same time - weekly on Monday from December 1st through March 31st. Reports are requested by 9AM. Reports may also be sent at other times especially when changes are observed in river ice.


How to Volunteer

For more information, see the Volunteer River Ice Spotter Network flyer, or contact the NWS Chicago office.

Phone: 815-834-1435 or 815-963-5913


Reference/Training Materials

River Ice Guide

River Ice Spotter Training