Near-record ice on Lake Superior – Canadian Shipowners Association concerned

Not only are Canadian grain movements threatened by insufficient icebreaking, so too are other industries … such as iron ore, construction materials, salt and petroleum products which are moved by ships.


Duluth, Minn. – On March 6, the U.S. Coast Guard’s cutter Alder and her crew broke their first ice in the Duluth-Superior harbor. Cutting through ice 30 inches thick in places, the Adler’s crew took 21 hours to go three miles.

Even Lake Superior veterans understand this winter is unique. “They’re saying this is the worst ice season since the mid-90s,” says Tony Maffia, the Alder’s captain. He calls it “a once in a generation-type of thing.”

On the Adler’s first day out ice covered 92 percent of the Great Lakes surface, the second-most ever measured.

Steel mills out east are hungry for Minnesota’s iron ore, now piling up and waiting for shipment. Grain and cement must also be delivered. Before the end of March, the Alder and her crew will have cut a path through more than 300 miles of ice, all the way to the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

The Canadian Shipowners Association is concerned about the ability of the Canadian Coast Guard to provide sufficient icebreaking, which has delayed the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in recent years.

Despite Canadian government efforts to encourage the movement of Canadian grain, it will remain stored in ports such as Thunder Bay until icebreakers open ports and support ship movements. Not only are Canadian grain movements threatened by insufficient icebreaking, so too are other industries with already low stocks of commodities such as iron ore, construction materials, salt and petroleum products which are moved by ships.

See entire articles:
http://www.boatnerd.com/news/

http://www.thetimesherald.com/article/20140317/NEWS05/303170014/Coast-Guard-breaks-near-record-ice-Lake-Superior

Thanks to @njsnowfan for these links

 


8 thoughts on “Near-record ice on Lake Superior – Canadian Shipowners Association concerned

  1. Well, what did they do in 1994 and 1978 when ice conditions were just as bad? People react today as if it’s the first time anything has happened.

    Reminder, ice breaking ships are much better today than they were 30 years ago or even 20 years ago.

    • I suspect it was difficult to get budgets for icebreakers, snowplows and so forth, when the media were screaming about global warming.
      Now, we pay the piper.

  2. so why did they wait till the ice was so thick before starting to make a pathway through?
    surely an early run and a return trip might have made it easier both ways and allowed the transports to follow behind and keep it clear?
    or is that too sensible?

  3. What would they do if and when we see the day when lakes superior, huron and michigan are only ice free for a month or two if at all? I doubt they ever think about that problem and won’t untill it is too late. What about the nuclear power plants in the future ice sheet and glacial flood zones?
    No contingency planning there either.
    Too many people, governments and businesses are not thinking beyond the short term.

  4. Ice breakers lol…I was on Lake Superior ice fishing about a month ago before coming back to the east coast….spent two months in international falls, minnesota….which is near Thunder Bay, Ontario. ..This ice this winter is thick….I mean there are areas 3 or 4 feet thick! You try cutting that ice and you will get trapped ships like the idiots in antarctica in January. ..Dont expect much melting anytime soon either its still struggling to get above freezing at all…when spring does arrive its going to take a few months to melt this ice….in 1979 and 1994 for example ice was in lake superior until mid-may….if what they say is true and this is unprecedented it would seem entirely possible then ice in superior until June 1st…that would mean a cold summer and an easier time refreezing the lake next fall

  5. If one includes the Great Lakes Ice and all the frozen solid large lakes in North America we are well above average ice coverage for the Northern Hemisphere. The total polar sea ice pack has just crossed back into above average terrain with both poles on the upswing.
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/

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