MaumeeiceWe’ve had some weird winter weather so far, with temperatures ranging from -16 to 56. With all that constant thawing and unthawing, the Mighty Maumee River has experienced a breakup of ice as it flows into Lake Erie. And Lake Erie itself, near Port Clinton, was recently a tourist stop as ice chunks pushed in off the lake into ice mountains, as if we were on an iceberg. Residents are hopeful that a slow incline of warmer temperatures will prevent major flooding in the spring. If the water warms up too quickly, the melting ice blocks tend to flood rapidly, potentially causing property damage. Three years ago, the ice flow on the Maumee River garnered national attention as it toppled gravestones and devastated a nearby park. You can still see the damage on trees in the area where the blocks of ice stripped their bark. Depending on which weather forecast you subscribe to, Northwest Ohio could finish out the winter on a warmer than usual note or be in for more snow and freezing temperatures. Either way, it is important to proceed with extreme caution if you are planning any winter activities along the Maumee River. Here are some tips to keep you safe out on the ice:

  • To determine the thickness of the ice, assess the:
    • appearance (color, texture, and features)
    • temperature range throughout the day
    • snow coverage
    • depth of water beneath it and the size of the water body
    • local climate fluctuations
  • Remember, you cannot rely on your eyesight alone to determine the thickness and safety of ice. Flowing water near the edges, water flows in cracks, and abnormal surfaces are all signs that you should not be out on the ice.
  • There is an old saying “thick and blue, tried and true; thin and crispy, way too risky.”
  • Follow these general measurements for playing it safe on the ice:
    • 3 inches = keep off
    • 4 inches = okay for ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and walking
    • 5 inches = okay for one snowmobile/ATV
    • 8-12 inches = okay for one car and/or group of people
    • 12-15 inches = okay for a light pickup truck or a van. But remember, the river is always flowing under the ice making it risky.

Even if you don’t venture out near the river during the winter, you can enjoy its icy aesthetic by looking at our “Maumee River in the Winter” video on our Facebook page.