Saturday, May 3, 2014

The ice boom is finally coming out !

New York Power Authority workers use a barge, the tug JonCaire, left, and an ice breaker vessel to begin removing the ice boom from Lake Erie on Tuesday. Derek Gee/Buffalo News Source of image
On Monday, the ice cover in the eastern end of Lake Erie was down to 240 square miles, i.e. below the magic 250 square mile point for which everyone has been waiting. Weather conditions on Tuesday were tough, but at 8:15am on April 29th, crews finally began the process dismantling the ice boom that stretches across the entrance to the Niagara River. 

Due to high winds but they were called off after removing just one of the 22 steel spans. Later in the day crews switched to opening the boom, by reorienting the pontoons, rather than removing them, opening 500 feet of the boom on Tuesday and another 1500 feet in Wednesday.

Removal of the boom is a gradual process to help control the flow of the ice.  Peter Kowalski, a manager of operations for the Niagara River Control Center, declined to estimate how long it will take workers to remove the current boom. The key variables are the weather conditions, which still are not terribly cooperative, and the density of the ice. If it doesn't start moving they will use an ice barge to start breaking it up. 

Satellite image from May 1 - you can still see the ice buildup

Annoyingly enough almost all of the satellite images since April 28th have all looked like this. (This one is from May 2)

Unfortunately, the boom removal has come too late for our field trip. Strangely we got cancelled by a combination of too much ice and too low of a water level.  Bummer.

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