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Lake Erie ice turning dangerous

We said goodbye to the frigid cold this weekend, but that means it’s becoming dangerous to be out on the ice.
Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 9:10 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Just a week ago, a snowstorm dropped a foot of snow across the area, with bitter cold air coming in behind that. The sun has come back out now, and with warmer days settling in, many are trying to get outside, even out on the lake.

But members of the coast guard warn: “No ice is safe ice.”

“You can’t always assume that what you’re standing on won’t break through at any time, because you don’t know what’s going on under the ice, if there’s a current going or with the fluctuating temperatures we’ve been having,” Robert Morse, Petty Officer 2nd Class with the Marblehead Coast Guard said.

Even with ice thickness peaking around 12 inches in parts of the western basin of Lake Erie, it doesn’t take much for a joy ride to turn dangerous.

Petty Officer Morse says, “We’re seeing a lot of snowmobiles, ATVs, and side-by-sides falling through.”

Some training on pulling a person from icy waters. Thankfully, members of the Marblehead Coast Guard say they haven't had to use this skill set so far this year. But the ice is still changing.

Posted by Heather Pollauf 13abc on Tuesday, February 23, 2021

That’s exactly what happened over the weekend on the Ottawa River. Thankfully, no one was hurt as an ATV went through the ice near the Summit Street Bridge. There were multiple other situations of people stranded because of drifting ice, plus ATVs and snowmobiles falling through. It’s been a busy few days for local first responders.

“Even though the ice seems like it’s stable, there could be fractures, underlying fractures that you don’t see, or it’s too thin, and then it slowly breaks off with what we call ice flows, and then that ice is drifting off to the middle of the lake, and you’re stranded,” Mike Griffin, Lead Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Cleveland said.

Griffin says that Lake Erie has hit its peak ice for the winter.

“We’re heading slowly now to the transitional period to spring,” he says. “So we start seeing the ice becoming unstable and winds shifting and moving around.”

Griffin expects that pattern to continue, with the lake ice continuing to thin, and disappear.

Ice rescue demonstration at Marblehead Coast Guard.

Posted by 13abc on Tuesday, February 23, 2021

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