Ice Boom stuck on dry land

Posted at 9:42 AM, Dec 08, 2015

The mild weather in November and December has put winter on hold and that means the Ice Boom will have to wait before being installed in Lake Erie.

For now, the plethora of steel pontoons sit still on a lonely lot alongside the Buffalo River, poised to take the plunge as soon as certain conditions are met.

One of two things need to happen before the 1.7 mile link of steel logs gets strung from the Canadian Shore to the U.S. breakwall. The first would be the lake temperature dropping to 39 degrees. This mark would trigger the tug boats to begin pulling the pontoons into place, but the current water temperature is 45F so the tugs will have to wait.

As it turns out it won't be a water temperature, but rather a calendar date that initiates the icy installation. Even if the lake stays warm, the Army Corp of Engineers will begin linking the 30ft lengths of steel stanchions together on or after December 16th. This date coincides closely with average date Lake Erie reaches 39F as determined by record keeping going back as far as the 1920s.

The process of anchoring the pontoons to the bottom of the lake bed can take several days and is often delayed by dangerous working conditions when white cap waves are combined with the swift current in the mouth of the Niagara River. Once put in place, the Ice Boom will help to prevent large flows of ice from entering the river reducing damage to personal property along the banks as well as to hydro power water intakes near Niagara Falls.

The Ice Boom will remain in place until spring when there is less than 250 sq miles of ice remaining on Lake Erie or April 1st, whichever comes first.




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