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Lake Erie finally frozen over

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Lake Erie finally frozen over, Ice fishing takes off


Jeff Helsdon / tillsonburgnews.com

Wednesday March 05, 2008




It’s nearly the end of February and Lake Erie is only now completely frozen over.

According to Canadian Ice Service data, the lake froze over last week. In an average winter, Lake Erie is ice covered by the first week of February.


"In the last 10 years since global warming has kicked in, it’s been a little later, if at all," said Lionel Hache, senior ice forecaster with the Canadian Ice Service.


Ice in that typical winter would have covered the lake for the entire month of February and then started to melt in March. Hache said temperatures are forecast to be cool the next couple of weeks so the ice will stick around. As it isn’t as thick as normal, Hache said there would be a rapid decline in lake ice by mid-March.


Environment Canada meteorologist Geoff Coulson explained the shallow depth of the lake is the reason Erie typically ices over. The intensity of the lake-effect snow can be reduced with the cold water covered by ice.


Lake-effect snow is caused when cold air picks up moisture, heat and energy when passing over cold water. Then, when the air moves on shore, any snow in the air mass is dumped. "A lot depends on what the winds are doing at a low level, whether it’s one or two bands or a broader band," Coulson said.


He explained the Tillsonburg area could receive lake-effect snow with southwest winds, but not to the same extent as Fort Erie and Port Colborne. A southwest wind can follow the entire path of the lake before hitting land at the east end of the lake, resulting in greater snowfall. The strength of the wind also makes a difference. Weaker winds tend to dump the snow shortly after hitting shore. Stronger winds can carry flurries further inland. For instance, Coulson said a strong wind could even carry snow from Lake Huron to this area.


Colder temperatures and more ice are what ice anglers on Long Point Bay have been hoping for. Jim Granger of Granger’s Ice Fishing in St. Williams depends on solid ice on Long Point Bay for his business. The past weekend was only the second weekend he has been able to operate. "We drilled spots today where there’s 13 inches of ice out there," he said Monday morning. The past weekend was a busy one on the bay. Granger estimated as many as 500 people were out trying to catch a perch dinner. The traffic didn’t do much for the fishing though. "It was slow on the weekend just due to there being so much traffic that it spooks the fish," he said. Fishing during the week, however, was good. Granger said each hut was averaging 30 fish, with some catching more and others less. "The good fishermen will catch fish," he said. "I had huts that rented out and re-rented last week."


In addition to the perch, a lot of pike are caught. One caught last week in one of Granger’s huts was 35 inches in length. "A lot of people are not getting them through the hole they’re so big," he said.


Those yearning for an early spring and ice break-up soon shouldn’t get their hopes up too high. Coulson said predictions are for temperatures to be slightly below normal heading into March. Typical daytime highs at the end of February are usually just above the freezing mark, with nighttime lows dipping down to -7* Celsius.

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Wow...I had no idea that Lake Erie freezes completely. That's pretty cool. Since Lake O doesn't freeze, I just assumed that none of the great lakes did. Pretty naive eh??? haha.

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