Mother Nature has thrown some extreme temperatures at us this winter and the thickness of the ice is showing it.
Typically the ice is at least 18 inches going into February, but that's not the case this year. "This is the least amount of ice I've seen going into February. All the reports I've seen are anywhere from 9 to 11 inches," said Gilbert Gagner with Bronze Back Guide Service.
Experts say it's generally safe to start walking on ice when it's around three inches thick. Four wheelers need five to six inches, and cars need at least eight to 10 inches of solid ice. But even if it's thick, changing temperatures can still create weak spots. And that's where people or their vehicles fall through the ice.
"The ice contracts and expands with the weather. The hotter the weather, the colder the weather, the ice will expand and it has to expand somewhere, and it makes pressure ridges," Gagner said.
The center of those pressure ridges can give way. In fact, just last Saturday a vehicle fell through the ice on Lake Memphremagog for that exact reason.
While some take risks, others do not -- even seasoned fishermen like Israel Holbrook from St. Albans. "I don't trust it at all. If I go fishing with somebody in the vehicle, I have them drop me off onshore and I walk out if they are going to drive," he said.
But the risks can be minimized by talking to the right people. "I don't generally tell people where to go. I tell people where to stop and ask. Stop by your local bait shops. These guys have a lot of information that's valuable to know -- the ice thicknesses, where to go," Gagner said.
Those people understand the numerous factors that impact ice thickness -- including water depth, water movement and even what color rock or sand is on the bottom of the water. Experts also say make sure you go with a buddy and that someone on land knows where you're going and when you'll be back. Having the right equipment is also important. Always go ice fishing with a life jacket, cell phone, compass -- and especially ice picks.
"These are called Picks-of-Life. When you actually go through the ice they fit around your neck like this. If you ever go through the ice, you just grab these picks, pull them apart and now you stab them into the ice and pull yourself onto the ice. It's a big safety thing to have and they are only six or seven dollars but they will save your life," Gagner said.
A small price to pay to keep you safe on the ice in the winter.
Thursday, March 6 2014 11:41 PM EST2014-03-07 04:41:04 GMT
The Randolph man who admitted to murdering his niece in 2008 will be sentenced this spring. In August Michael Jacques struck a deal with federal prosecutors. He gave up his right to an appeal and pleadedMore >>
The Randolph man who admitted to murdering his niece in 2008 will be sentenced this spring.More >>
Thursday, March 6 2014 11:40 PM EST2014-03-07 04:40:13 GMT
It's a real estate deal between UVM and the Queen City that could end up kicking some non-profits to the curb. The Burlington School District voted Thursday night on half of the multi-million dollar deal.More >>
It's a real estate deal between UVM and the Queen City that could end up kicking some non-profits to the curb.More >>
Thursday, March 6 2014 7:53 PM EST2014-03-07 00:53:09 GMT
'Tis the season-- as winter winds down frost heaves and potholes arrive. The ups and downs of the 2014 winter can be seen and felt. No route or road is spared. And just adding to the frustration-- theMore >>
The deep freeze is making for some rough roads across our region and it's also contributing to a fuel shortage. Shelby Cashman has more.More >>
Thursday, March 6 2014 7:56 PM EST2014-03-07 00:56:36 GMT
The pothole problem knows no boundaries. Our neighbors to the north are also dealing with rough roads. The Quebec Transportation Ministry budgeted $260 million for winter road maintenance. But crews haveMore >>
Our neighbors to the north are also dealing with rough roads.More >>
Thursday, March 6 2014 4:23 PM EST2014-03-06 21:23:33 GMT
Investigators now say a fire that damaged a student housing complex at St. Michael's College was not caused by the building's heating system. The fire last month damaged a row of townhouses. All of theMore >>
Investigators now say a fire that damaged a student housing complex at St. Michael's College was not caused by the building's heating system.More >>
Thursday, March 6 2014 4:50 PM EST2014-03-06 21:50:24 GMT
Vermont police say a New Hampshire woman was driving drunk with two kids in her car. The incident happened Wednesday at the Intersection of 1-91 and Route 302 in Newbury, Vt. Vermont state police sayMore >>
Vermont police say a New Hampshire woman was driving drunk with two kids in her car.More >>