For this season, ice thickness testing has started. The municipality releases weekly reports on the results of ice thickness tests conducted on more than 70 lakes throughout the area each year.
For group skating, the ice should be at least 20 centimeters thick and at least 15 centimeters thick, according to the Canadian Red Cross. In regions where streams run into and out of lakes, extreme vigilance is urged. It’s also vital to remember that lake ice conditions can vary across their entire surface and can fluctuate depending on the weather.
A small hole is made in the ice at the coastline for situations where ice is just beginning to form. Ice thickness will determine the equipment needed. A reading is taken after the hole has been cut by hooking a graded rod at the ice’s base. The reading is documented in the Ice Thickness Report, along with general parameters including visible indications of open water, shell ice (a thin layer that forms on top of the water), and surface conditions, and is rounded down to the nearest centimeter.
Using a 10-centimeter (4″) ice auger or other suitable equipment, three testing holes are dug at random intervals of 16 meters (50 feet) from the shoreline. At each hole, a reading is taken and entered into the Ice Thickness Report, once more rounding to the closest centimeter.
Testing begins once ice has formed and it is safe for staff to begin testing.
How thick is considered safe?
The Red Cross recommends that ice should be 15 cm for walking or skating alone; 20 cm for skating parties or games; and 25 cm for snowmobiles.
In the region, the Halifax Regional Municipality evaluates 70 lakes and ponds. Site locations include municipally owned land with secure entry points and that are conveniently close to one another, given the manpower and resources on hand.
Because ice thickness can change fast due to temperature, water velocity, etc., any reading below the recommended safety threshold of 15 cm may provide the misleading impression that the ice is safe for use. Because of this, the municipality reports measurements under 15 cm.
Read the list of lakes being tested at https://www.halifax.ca/parks-recreation/parks-trails-gardens/ice-thickness
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