LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Winter is on thin ice. Over the weekend, above-freezing temperatures contributed to the death of a teenager who drowned while ice fishing on a water body in the town of North East in Dutchess County. Last month, a skater was rescued after a fall through similarly sheer conditions on Glen Lake. The Lake George Winter Carnival has scaled back its on-the-ice events, with only the final weekend left with any potential for a car race on the queen of American lakes.
All of that points the weather reading in one direction: Stay off the ice. With a forecast Monday high of 48 leading to a high point of 60 degrees expected on Thursday, it’s not much of a winter this year in the Capital Region and North Country. What does that mean for anglers and skaters?
The Department of Environmental Conservation says that when the ice is new and clear, nobody should tread on it if it’s under 2 inches thick. 4 inches is recommended for ice fishing and other on-foot activities; 5 inches for snowmobiles and ATVs; and 8-12 for cars and small pickup trucks.
That guidance changes if that ice is on top of running water. Ice above water in motion means that the ice should be expected to be about 20% weaker. If the ice is in slushy conditions, the number rises to 50% weaker. If the ice is white instead of clear, the recommended inch minimums should be doubled.
When out on safe ice, there’s something else to consider: bubblers. De-icers on docks come in multiple kinds, some of which can be more hazardous than others to the structure of ice – and to those who go out on it. This year, Warren County is pushing an awareness campaign to educate lakeside property owners about the difference between “ice eater” and “bubbler” style devices. The former can create long strips of thin ice that can destroy docks, and create lethal conditions for anyone who falls through.
Whether or not ice activities are viable on Lake George this winter, the region has its own guidance to give anyone looking to have fun out on the ice. Advice on the town website includes going out with a buddy, separated by enough distance to distribute weight across the ice; bringing survival equipment such as rope and ice picks; avoiding driving on ice; using a headlight at night; and not consuming alcohol while out in the cold, as a drink can increase your chances of hypothermia.
The 7-day weather forecast as of Monday predicts a dip in temperatures back down to 37 on Saturday, before rising into the 40s again by the end of the weekend. Ice Castles is open in Lake George again this winter, with a late start due to a winter of warm days. A representative from Ice Castles on Monday indicated that the business may have to cancel some upcoming days.