Earliest Ice


A few cold nights and frozen puddles and we are digging out our skates and sharpening runners. When will it actually freeze enough to skate/sail on?
The easiest clue is to listen to NOAA radio. The key is “mean daily temperature” strangely enough this needs to be 32F or below. In order for big enough ice to use to freeze these cold nights we need to have little or no wind… forecast “light and variable”.
Some 50 years ago when my high school hockey team played on natural outdoor ice (talk about “hardship of the old days”) I was the team manager and responsible for the ice. The main duty was flooding the rink at night for fresh ice the next day, my middle name was Zamboni. We only flooded when the temperature was below 20F. In reality for useful new ice to form or “skim over” the temperature needs to be nearer 10 than 20. If it has been cold snap “Canadian High” cold for a day or two it has likely been NW windy as well with the front coming in. About the third day of the high we can expect the “light and variable” wind to allow skim it all over seize up as the surface water has been cooled and maybe supercooled to 32 or below by the wind and cold air. When the daytime temp is less than 10 and no wind expect real action. I have seen Chickawaukee freeze right over in the middle of the day, you could see the ice grow. Then you can get 1/2-3/4 inch overnight growth and the real stuff. Beaver ponds and frog puddles will jump the gun and Jory will find them.

Right now, Black Friday after T’giving, two cold nights and daytime 30’s may have the beavers holding their breath but so might we.


About Lloyd Roberts

Long time ice boater. Creator of the Gambit and Cheapskate boats. Author of the first definitive book on ice boating "Think Ice"One of the original members of the Chickawaukie ice boat club in Maine. Lloyd also lives on Chickawaukie and has played launch host to countless ice boaters over the years.
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