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“This is an unusual year for ice formation”

“This is an unusual year for ice formation. Between warm days and now decent snowpack, ice on the lakes has been slow to form and even slower to accumulate. Not only does the snow insulate the ice (slowing down ice accumulation), it evenly distributes weight across the ice, pushing the whole ice sheet down, adding pressure, and increasing the risk of ice cracking (not in a good way). The ice that eventually forms from the snow is of lesser quality than ice formed by cold air, meaning that it can support less weight than solid ice. And, interestingly, it is common for a layer of ice to form on top of the snowpack leaving a liquid layer of water/slush in between two layers of solid ice.” – A message from Maggie, LEA’s Staff Limnologist.

Sometimes the snow can give the appearance of ice safety. Still, everyone should be particularly cautious because the relatively warm air temps combined with snowpack results in slow-growing, low quality ice. Click this link to learn more about this phenomenon from the University of Minnesota Sea Grant

Maggie Welch, LEA’s Staff Limnologist conducting routine water monitoring through the ice.

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