Unpredictable lake conditions prompt safety warning
With unpredictable conditions on parts of Lake Windermere, the Windermere Fire Department is urging the public to use caution on the ice.
The fire department says the ice thickness is not consistent, particularly where water enters the lake from creeks or streams.
“The ice conditions can change dramatically within short distances. While the ice is 15” or thicker in many areas, it can be five inches or less in others. We are urging everyone who uses and recreates on the lake to use common sense and caution, especially in areas like the mouth of Windermere Creek where ice can be very thin due to the incoming fresh water,” says Columbia Valley Rural Fire & Rescue Service Fire Chief Jim Miller.
Fresh water inlets are not the only potential danger. There are areas all over the lake, where things like rotting vegetation can create methane holes. Thin ice can also happen close to shore where people are riding bikes, ATVs, skiing, fishing, skating and walking.
“Over the past few weeks, there have been at least eight different incidents where vehicles of different sizes have broken through the ice,” says Miller. “We are lucky that no one has been seriously injured or worse.”
With the warmer temperatures, it’s important to ensure the ice is thick enough before you walk – or drive – on it.
The fire department does not test ice thickness on the lake, but is often the first one that gets called when people have broken through the ice. “We just want people to be safe out there,” adds Miller.