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Thin Ice, be careful

Late season ice alert

NORTHEAST MICHIGAN – Well, we’ve had a few pleasant days of late that remind us that winter does end in due time. With the suns rays a little brighter and the occasional breeze coming out of the southwest, things begin to look up and the winter blahs melt away along with all that ice and snow. 

Leave it to emergency services to throw a word of caution in that pleasant thought, but here we go anyway. This year’s season regarding lake ice started off with a flurry of ice rescues for the surrounding fire departments and we’re hoping to avoid a late season repeat of the same. Reasons why vehicles, snow mobiles or ice shanties along with their occupants or riders break through the ice are as varied as each incident, but they all share one common denominator: thin ice.

Likewise, the reasons for ice being thin or thick also vary widely. Most often we associate thin ice with temperatures, so we reached out to the experts to see why this year seems to be just a bit more hazardous out on the ice than in other years.

We had a chance to speak with meteorologist Patrick Bak, of the National Weather Service center located in Gaylord. Patrick informed us that the temperatures in our area have been a little warmer than the usual normal this winter, so much so that the Great Lakes have less than 10% ice coverage compared to the normal of around 55%.

While they do not monitor local inland lakes, it’s reasonable to assume that conditions here would reflect the wider circumstance. All this leads to the lake ice possibly not being as “good” this year for those winter activities as usual, so we’re sending out a word of caution. Patrick also informed us that this year has not seen any long, locked-in cold spells favorable to ice development either.

With temperatures yo-yoing up and down, who knows what ice conditions may be like. Surely, with the ice season beginning to wind down, there are those of you looking to get out on the ice regardless.

For you folks we would ask a few things to help in our quest to keep everyone safe and healthy. Please monitor the weather situation before you go out, and not just the morning of, but for several days prior. Stick to areas you’re familiar with and always let someone know where you’ll be and for how long you expect to be out. Never go by yourself. If you are planning on using the ice shanty for as long in the season as possible, remember there are laws you must follow.

When it comes to some of the legalities, we got some great information from Lt. Brandon Kieft, of the Michigan DNR, Roscommon branch. Lt. Kieft is one of those responsible for the enforcement of regulations designed to keep all of us safe.

, and click on the new fishing guide link. Good information indeed. Moms and dads, this isn’t just for the sportsmen. Kids like the ice too, so caution them to walk and wander somewhere other than ice-covered water. Tragedy can lurk even in shallow water close to shore. Hoping that your ventures out on to that cold slab on the water, don’t end up with you on a cold slab at the morgue. Stay safe everyone!

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