Great Lakes Ice Conditions – Spring Weakens Ice

From the USCG Mackinaw - Photo USGC
From the USCG Mackinaw - Photo USGC

CLEVELAND — Shipping – The United States Coast Guard is issuing a warning Wednesday about increasingly warm temperatures that will increase the possibility of weakened ice across the Great Lakes region.

The combination of warmer temperatures and shifting winds has caused extremely hazardous ice conditions throughout the lakes and surrounding rivers, increasing the possibility of the remaining ice breaking apart.

Preventing drowning deaths is a goal of the Canadian Coast Guard
The Canadian Coast Guard rescues many boaters who might otherwise drown

“Ice conditions are rapidly changing,” said Karl Willis, with the Coast Guard 9th District Command Center in Cleveland. “Warming temperatures and wind significantly affect ice strength and can lead to extremely hazardous conditions with a high probability for drifting pack ice.”

People Seem to Ignore Ice Conditions

The USCG Icebreaker Mackinaw - keeping the shipping lanes open. Photo: USGC
The USCG Icebreaker Mackinaw – keeping the shipping lanes open. Photo: USGC

Tuesday afternoon, search-and-rescue controllers with the 9th District Command Center diverted an air crew from Coast Guard Air Station Detroit, aboard a Dolphin helicopter, after receiving a report of four people trapped on the ice on Lake St. Clair near Lake St. Clair Metropark in Harrison Township, Mich.

A rescue crew from Coast Guard Station St. Clair Shores, Mich., and local agencies also responded.

Due to the shallow depth of water, local rescue crews were able to safely walk the people off the ice.

Monday, rescue crews from Coast Guard Station Duluth, Minn., and a local fire department were dispatched after receiving a report of 15-20 people who became adrift on an ice floe.

Prior to rescuers arriving on scene, it was reported that all persons had made it safely back to land by jumping back to shore before the ice floe drifted out of reach.

The Coast Guard warns people to never venture out on the ice alone and to take proper precautions before heading out on or near the water or the ice.

It is important for people to stay aware of their surroundings and stay on the lookout for changing conditions.

I.C.E. Safety

When venturing out, a person should think I.C.E. as a precaution:

Information — know the weather and ice conditions, know where you are going, and know how to call for help. Never go out alone.

Clothing — have the proper clothing to prevent hypothermia. Wear a waterproof exposure suit and a life jacket.

Equipment — have the proper equipment. Carry two ice picks or screwdrivers, in case you fall in. Use these items to dig into the ice and pull yourself out. They are more effective than bare hands. Carry a whistle or noise maker to alert people that you are in distress. Carry a cellular phone or marine band radio in a waterproof container, so that you can call for help if you come across trouble.

– See more at:

Previous articleSpring or Winter – Mother Nature Can’t Decide
Next articleGrain Shipping Issue Impacts Railways or NNL offers news, information, opinions and positive ideas for Thunder Bay, Ontario, Northwestern Ontario and the world. NNL covers a large region of Ontario, but are also widely read around the country and the world. To reach us by email: Reach the Newsroom: (807) 355-1862