The Coast Guard is issuing a warning Wednesday about increasingly warm temperatures that will increase the possibility of weakened Great Lakes ice.

The combination of warmer temperatures and shifting winds has caused extremely hazardous ice conditions throughout the lakes and surrounding rivers, increasing the possibility of the remaining ice breaking apart.

Check Out Aerial Photos of Leelanau’s Ice Caves Provided by the US Coast Guard

“Ice conditions are rapidly changing,” said Karl Willis, with the Coast Guard 9th District Command Center in Cleveland. “Warming temperatures and wind significantly affect ice strength and can lead to extremely hazardous conditions with a high probability for drifting pack ice.”

The Coast Guard warns people to never venture out on the ice alone and to take proper precautions before heading out on or near the water or the ice.  It is important for people to stay aware of their surroundings and stay on the lookout for changing conditions.

When venturing out, a person should think ICE—information, clothing, and equipment—as a precaution:

  • Information: Know the weather and ice conditions, know where you are going, and know how to call for help. Never go out alone.
  • Clothing: Have the proper clothing to prevent hypothermia. Wear a waterproof exposure suit and a life jacket.
  • Equipment: Have the proper equipment. Carry two ice picks or screwdrivers, in case you fall in. Use these items to dig into the ice and pull yourself out. They are more effective than bare hands. Carry a whistle or noise maker to alert people that you are in distress. Carry a cellular phone or marine band radio in a waterproof container, so that you can call for help if you come across trouble.


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Photo(s) by US Coast Guard District 9