Releases from the Jamestown and Pipestem dams have been steady since Dec. 4 with little problems reported, according to Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager.
"It's quiet right now," he said, referring to water level concerns along the river. "I'm beginning to worry about what's going to happen next."
Water releases are at 450 cubic feet per second from Jamestown Dam and 250 cfs from the Pipestem for a combined 700 cfs flowing through Jamestown.
Allen Schlag, hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Bismarck, said the water flowing out of the dams is warm enough to prevent the formation of ice at least through Jamestown at this time and possibly for the next several weeks, depending on weather conditions.
Kimberly Robbins, LaMoure County emergency manager, said the James River in the southern part of LaMoure County has frozen over with intermittent ice on the river in the northern part of the county.
"We're stressing the dangers of the ice that has formed on the James River," she said. "There are still the unknowns about the flows and the stability of the ice."
Robbins said the James River level at the city of LaMoure is 9.5 feet or about 2 feet above a normal winter level but also more than 2 feet below the "action level" where the community must take flood precautions. So far, there have been no problems with ice jams although officials continue to monitor the ice conditions.
"We've never been at this level in the winter in recent years," she said.
Schlag said current conditions are likely to continue at least for the next few weeks.
Bergquist said information released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates the reservoirs behind Jamestown and Pipestem dams will be down to planned winter levels by March 1.
Schlag said he anticipates the Corps of Engineers will reduce releases once planned winter levels are reached. This will produce more normal winter conditions on the James River that would only last until the start of the spring thaw.
"The James River Basin was so hard hit by the storms in September and October," Schlag said. "It's going to be pretty hard hit by the water already trapped in the system this spring. Expect to see above normal runoff with anything near a normal snowfall this winter."
Schlag characterized the current snow amounts in the Jamestown area as near normal for the year although forecasts from the Climate Prediction Center indicate an "above normal chance of above normal snow" for all the Great Plains states including North Dakota.
"It's been wet and we're going to stay wet," he said.
Bergquist called the good weather and quiet conditions on the James River "almost a mental break" for those charged with monitoring the flooding situation this winter.
"There are no issues now but there is a lot of winter left," he said.