Positives and Negatives of Low Ice Coverage in the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes have been experiencing a low amount of ice cover so far this season. It’s been affecting the shipping industry as well as the United States Coast Guard in a positive way.

Operation Taconite is the largest domestic ice breaking operation in the country. Since ice levels have been low so far this season, they’ve been able to reallocate resources from the operation to other areas. “We have other missions, other than just ice breaking,” said Lt. Barton Nanney. “It’s something to where we can help focus on maybe another mission area where we don’t have to use those resources for ice breaking, whether it’s law enforcement, search and rescue if we had to.”

The shipping industry has also benefitted from the low ice levels. Director of Operations for the Lake Carriers Association Eric Peace said they were able to transport goods more easily before the Soo Locks closed. “At this point most of our companies have stopped shipping and there’s a few other vessels moving at this point, but the fact that we didn’t have a lot of ice before the locks closed allowed us to move more cargos effectively and efficiently.”

However, Owner of Cedar Swamp Sporting Goods Patrick Kline said inland lakes are frozen but not the larger water bodies, causing a slow start for ice fishing. “Unfortunately Little Traverse Bay and so forth aren’t,” he said. “So, people have to be real careful, even if they see ice out there it might not be safe and we always advise any of our fishermen to check the ice before going out.”

The U.S. Coast Guard reminds people that no ice is safe ice, and those venturing out should always take precautions.