Officials Urging Everyone To Stay Off The Ice On Area Lakes Until Conditions Improve
(Lake Park)-- If you can't see the ice, don't walk on it. That's the advice from Jeff Morrison, a Conservation Officer with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. It comes on the heels of an incident Thursday in which a man fell through the ice on Silver Lake near Lake Park. Not only is the newly formed ice still very thin in many cases, but Morrison says some other factors are also coming into play...
"We're going into the season also, the ice season, with ultra high water. So we've got deeper water than we have had in the past on some of the sloughs; there is flow through all of our lakes right now which changes it and really makes the ice dynamic. If some of your listeners look up on Big Spirit, there's a big pressure heave that runs almost all the way across the lake. We haven't seen that this early ever that I can think of."
Morrison says the man involved in Thursday's incident was extremely fortunate, in that someone actually saw him go through the ice...
"Folks that live around the lake, watch the lake. It was a bystander from shore that saw him walking on the ice and thought boy, that ice was open water not very long ago, and just happened to be watching him and saw him go through and made the call right away. That got EMS and all those folks enroute that much quicker, and probably save the man's life, quite honestly."
Morrison adds that while the lakes area is extremely fortunate to have highly dedicated and trained rescue crews, that there's no need to put those folks into unnecessary danger...
"We need to keep in mind that every time they go out, they're at risk. So it's up to us as ice fishermen and recreational users to take that into account and maybe err on the side of caution, making it a little bit later, a little bit thicker ice, a little bit better ice, before we venture out on it, because somebody's gotta come get 'em, the bottom line is. And they need to be trained and have the equipment to do that. We're fortunate that we have those folks here in the lakes area, but we don't need to put them at risk."
Morrison says the heavy snowfall that's expected this weekend will make what ice there is even more dangerous. He says the snow tends to act as insulation.
Photos of Thursday's ice rescue on Silver Lake (courtesy Mike Ehret, Dickinson County Emergency Management).