Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Note About Ice

With the onset of winter, people often ask me about life in Minnesota. Having been born in the great icebox and having lived there until I married a Navy man who dragged me to the warmer climes of southern California, when these inquiries come, they often revolve around ice. Is it really cold enough to freeze a lake so completely that people can actually drive on it? Do people really set up shacks on the lakes so they can fish during the winter? Do people really cut holes in the ice to go swimming? The answer to all of these questions is "yes," of course. However, that does not mean that ice is safe. Ice in NEVER safe, as is reiterated in this article from my hometown newspaper, the Fairmont Sentinel:
But according to ice safety experts, no matter how low the temperature gets, or how late in the season it is, the ice is never safe.

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The Department of Natural Resources recommends staying off ice less than 2 inches thick. Ice can be walked on at 4 inches, snowmobiled on at 5 inches, and support a car of small truck at 8 inches. Medium trucks should wait until the ice thickness reaches 12-15 inches.

These guidelines are for new, clear ice --- white ice is considered half as strong, and ice thickness recommendations should therefore be doubled.
And watch out for the white stuff. It can be deceiving, as we continue to read:
The snow cover, which some seem to think helps the ice form, actually insulates the lake, inhibiting ice formation.

Snow also can cause ice to be less stable, as the weight of the snow presses down on the freshly formed ice.

Eric Schettler, local conservation officer for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said the snow can cause the lake to flood --- pushing water up through cracks or fishing holes. The water then begins a freezing/thawing cycle that creates "rotten ice."

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Schettler said since water freezes from the bottom up, the water moving under the ice can easily chip away at the thickness.
And don't forget these informational tidbits:
- a vehicle being drive on ice causes waves, just like a boat
- parking vehicles together on the ice can cause them to sink.

Be safe!

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