The ice, for the most part, is now “in”. It is generally at least 4 or 5 inches thick which is enough to support skaters and ice boats. As always, there are places where the ice is NOT safe. Most of these are apparent because you can see water but you still need to be careful and take self rescue equipment if in doubt of your knowledge of the lake and its ice. Some areas on the lake, as of Christmas Day, were beautifully smooth and much of the rest of the lake was tolerably smooth. People with hockey skates were able to enjoy the tolerably smooth ice but pond skates, or nordic skates, with longer straight blades did make for more enjoyable skating. The next few days will probably cause more changes in that rain is forecast with possible snow showers. That rain will make time to freeze but may make much more of the lake really smooth ice as long as snow doesn’t fall during the freeze. Enjoy the lake but be careful so you don’t take a cold swim.
The recent snow (and sleet and freezing rain) have made the lake not “skating friendly”. It also makes it so that you can’t see where the ice is weak as you can’t see the standing water. Also, realize that with the weight of the snow and sleet on the existing ice, water will come up through cracks and cause slush at the ice surface. If you are on skis or snowshoes, the slush may then freeze on your skis or snowshoes that makes travel slower. Some snowmobile tracks look like they were basically driving through water. The slush is on top of the ice so there probably isn’t danger of falling through but the slush is very much in evidence. There needs to be a good freeze to get rid of the slush.
On the somewhat rough ice a skate sailor was flying around the ice on Christmas Eve as well as maybe half a dozen ice boats.
Below is a picture of the ice around West Jockey Cap. It had rained before the freeze-up so the lake level was a bit higher than the desired winter level. The dam was opened to deal with this but left some ice high and dry along the edges.
When the ice froze, it was moving a bit in the wind so many of the buoys are frozen into the ice in a lying down position. Some are completely submerged. This the large buoy that is off of Bass Island and is going to be lying down until the ice goes out.
From near Albee Beach, all the way to the Sister Islands, there was a crack in the ice. It was possible to get across in some places that were narrower than others but going across had its risks. A similar crack was seen from Sister Island pointing toward Camp Bernadette.
Again, these cracks were probably caused by the normal warming and cooling of the ice. When ice freezes, it expands, which is the reason it can burst pipes. However, once it freezes, it behaves like a solid so when it cools, it contracts. While the contraction is not large, when you are dealing with a mile or so if ice, the contraction can cause these cracks.
The picture, below, shows the Sister Islands and Mt. Shaw.
In the east part of the lake, Governor’s Rock is out of water and they remove the lighted buoy for the winter. Mt. Shaw is in the background of this picture, too.