Warm Alberta weather prompts thin ice warning

Thin ice covers the water in southeast Calgary Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. Stephen Thor

A reminder was issued Wednesday by Alberta Blue Cross to be wary of thin ice — especially in light of the unseasonably warm weather Alberta has experienced recently.

Daytime highs in Calgary have hit double digits six times this month, with five days showing highs at least 12 C above average.

Daytime highs in Edmonton have been above freezing every day since the start of the month reaching as warm as 7 C, Dec. 7. Comparatively there was not a single day in December 2019 that recorded those respective peak highs for these two cities.

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In a news release, Alberta Blue Cross spoke about a 63-year-old man who lost his life at Jackfish Lake on Nov. 27 while attempting to clear snow for a skating rink. The man had been using a side-by-side — or a UTV, a small off-road vehicle — which broke through the lake ice.

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“Even though we’re well into December, for many locations across the province, ice is not thick enough yet to bear the weight of quads, snowmobiles or side-by-sides.” Alberta Blue Cross director of corporate communications, Sharmin Hislop said.

Click to play video: 'Ice fishing safety tips and equipment essentials'
Ice fishing safety tips and equipment essentials

Hislop went on to explain some ice also might not even be thick enough to handle the weight of a person on foot.

While the organization spoke of the benefits of outdoor winter recreation like ice fishing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, skating and cross-country skiing.

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The recommended minimum depth for activities on new, clear, hard ice is:

  • 15 centimetres for walking or skating alone
  • 20 ccentimetres for skating groups or games
  • 25 centimetres for snowmobiles

“Ice thickness can be affected by many factors including underwater springs or currents, air and water temperature and type, location, depth and size of the body of water,” Hislop said.

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Click to play video: 'Calgary seniors use turban, garden hose to save teens who fell through ice'
Calgary seniors use turban, garden hose to save teens who fell through ice

The news release also cautioned about use of stormwater drainage ponds which can often be found in newer neighbourhoods. Water can flow underneath and lead to” dangerously reduce ice thickness levels,” Hislop said.

“And parents need to be especially vigilant to ensure their children don’t venture out onto thin ice, including dugouts on farms.”

More information on what to do if you are someone around you gets in trouble on thin ice, can be found on the Red Cross website..

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