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Saskatoon Fire Department warns of rotting ice

For immediate release: April 23, 2018 - 11:26am
FR18-103

Warm weather has arrived after a long winter and is now causing ice on the City’s lakes and ponds to deteriorate or rot. The Saskatoon Fire Department now asks people to stay off the ice since it may be unstable.

Assistant Chief Wayne Rodger says Saskatoon Fire Department staff have evaluated the ice conditions and have determined the ponds are no longer safe for recreational use.

“The degradation we’re observing along the shoreline could make access treacherous,” Rodger says.  “Once the ice starts to deteriorate -- as it has this year -- the thickness of the ice is no longer an indication of its strength.”

He says with warmer temperatures, several different factors come into play to make the ice unstable:

  • When the snow cover melts, the sunlight and solar radiation travels through clear ice and is absorbed by the water below causing it to warm.  Through this process the ice melts from the bottom up. The solar radiation causes ice crystals to deteriorate dramatically weakening the ice.  Because this happens from the bottom up, even ice that appears stable may not be safe.
  • When water pools on top of the ice, perhaps from the melting snow cover, it will be warmer than the ice and again allow solar radiation to travel through the ice causing it to melt faster.
  • When water is moving above or below the ice surface, such as the inflows to our storm retention ponds from attached to storm sewers, ice will weaken. In the same way, river currents constantly affect the quality of the ice on the river making it unstable and dangerous for use.

The Saskatoon Fire Department again reminds residents to never go on the river ice and asks them to stay off the ice on the city’s lakes and ponds for the remainder of the 2018 season.