Cleveland: Coast Guard warns about 'thin ice' on Lake Erie

11:52 AM, Jan 12, 2013   |    comments
Photo: U.S. Coast Guard
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CLEVELAND --   With temperatures forecasted to reach 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit this weekend in some parts of the Great Lakes, ice has become thin and unsafe, which increases the likelihood of people falling through the ice.

With forecasted temperatures reaching 60 degrees Fahrenheit in Cleveland, 57 F in Buffalo, N.Y., 50 F in Chicago and 58 F in Detroit, the Coast Guard cautions the public about venturing out on the ice and reminds all citizens that ice can be dangerous and unpredictable.

The 9th Coast Guard District reminds Great Lakes citizens and visitors to use extra precautions when planning recreational activities on frozen ponds, streams, rivers and lakes.

Ice is an ever-changing surface, and the fluctuating weather conditions affect the ice's stability.

In an effort to prevent, prepare and educate those who recreate on the ice, here are five facts about ice:

  • Ice usually freezes from shore outward and new ice is stronger than old ice.
  • Direct freezing of lake water is stronger than ice formed from melting snow or refrozen ice
  • Obstruction such as rocks, logs, vegetation and pilings affect the strength of ice. Heat from these obstructions slows ice formation. Ice shifting and expanding will create pressure cracks and ridges around the obstructions.
  • Underwater streams or springs with flowing water will cause weak spots by keeping the water circulating, making any ice over or near moving water weak.
  • Ice near the shore of a frozen lake may be unsafe due to pressures outward and upward which cause cracks to appear. Ice closer to shore is weaker because of shifting, expansion, and sunlight reflecting off the bottom. This buckling shore ice continually thaws and refreezes.

"Due to these unseasonably warm temperatures, ice across the Great Lakes is deteriorating quickly, and conditions are becoming inherently unsafe," said Frank Jennings Jr., 9th Coast Guard District Recreational Boating and Water Safety Program manager.

In an effort to prevent, prepare and educate those who recreate on the ice, the Coast Guard would like to encourage people to remember the following tips:

  • I - Intelligence: check the weather and ice conditions, know where you are going, and know how to call for help/assistance.
  • C- Clothing: wear the proper anti-exposure clothes with multiple layers. If possible, wear a dry suit to prevent hypothermia, which can occur within minutes after falling through the ice.
  • E - Equipment: have the proper equipment such as a marine band radio, life jackets and screw drivers.

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