Thin Ice Skating | County 17

A typical weekend this month at Dalbey Memorial Park looked like a traditional wintry scene from a movie or book. There was daily activity on the frozen pond, ranging from ice fishing and ice skating to children playing hockey and walkers simply strolling on the fishing lake.

The park has seen a lot of winter traffic. However, the recent increase in temperatures has resulted in less ice and puddles in various places.

A ‘thin ice’ warning sign was erected at the end of last week in the pond at Dalby Memorial Park. The sign is not from parks and recreation staff, but rather from a notice from the fire department who had recently conducted training in the immediate area which created holes and surface water.

Until another arctic front crosses the region to thicken the ice, city officials remind visitors of all ages to beware and take precautions before walking on the ice.

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Gillette City Parks Director Janie Kuntz is thrilled that all local parks continue to see steady traffic through the winter months, but reminds ice-lovers to be careful, regardless of the current temperature. air.

“Ask someone to go on the ice with you, never go alone. Also, keep pets on a leash,” she said. “Remember, at least 4 inches of ice for one person on the ice.”

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Dalbey Memorial Park is the only place within the city limits for ice fishing. One of the most important basics of ice fishing is following ice thickness guidelines. Most anglers intuitively know that thin ice can be extremely dangerous, but fewer know that white ice or “snow ice” is only about half the strength of new, clear ice.

“An important thing to remember is…the newer the ice, the stronger the ice,” Kuntz said.

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Many young people also use the park for ice fishing, so it’s important to make sure they know the precautions. In general, recreational activities of all kinds must take place on ice at least 4 inches thick. Less than that should be avoided, Kuntz stressed.

According to the Rapid City National Weather Service, high temperatures in Gillette are expected to be above freezing next week. Another strong cold front is expected late next week where overnight lows are expected to fall to near zero, which could pave the way for outdoor enthusiasts to return to the ice.

Things to keep in mind on the ice

To maximize the safety of ice fishing and other ice recreation, keep in mind:

  1. New ice is generally stronger than old ice. Four inches of clear, newly formed ice can support a person, while 12 inches or more of old or partially thawed ice cannot.
  2. Ice rarely freezes uniformly. It can be a foot thick in one place and only 2 inches in a few yards.
  3. The insulating effect of snow slows down the freezing process. The extra weight also reduces the weight that the ice sheet can support. Also, ice near the shore may be weaker than ice farther away.
  4. The swelling and cracking of ice are not necessarily dangerous. It only means that the ice expands and contracts as the temperature changes.
  5. Schools of fish or herds of waterfowl can also affect the relative safety of the ice. The movement of fish can bring warm water up from the bottom of the lake.

Sources: National Weather Service/Rapid City and www.takemefishing.org.

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