Lake Windermere freezes up, but dangerous spot remains

  • Dec. 3, 2014 2:00 p.m.

HOT SPOT The ice thickness in front of Timber Ridge and Lakeview Meadows was last measured at just two inches, compared to nine at the south end. Photo by Brad Kitching
HOT SPOT The ice thickness in front of Timber Ridge and Lakeview Meadows was last measured at just two inches, compared to nine at the south end. Photo by Brad Kitching

Lake Windermere officially froze this past weekend, marking the start of winter in the valley and making Invermere resident Laura Penney the winner of this years Catch the Freeze contest.

Ms. Penney correctly guessed the freeze date of November 29th in the annual Lake Windermere Ambassadors-run contest and said she picked that date after learning that last winter the lake froze over on November 22nd.

This year hasnt been as cold, so I thought it would be about a week later, she said, adding that shes looking forward to skating on the Whiteway this winter and plans to wear her prize, an I Love My Lake T-shirt, over top of her winter coat while doing so.

The whole idea of Catch the Freeze is to get people excited about the changing of the season. Its a way to kick off the winter season and something to remind people that the lake culture we have here in Invermere keeps going right through the winter, said Lake Windermere Ambassadors program co-ordinator Megan Peloso. With the Whiteway now holding the Guinness World Record for the longest outdoor skating trail, it will probably see more traffic this winter, so were also hoping to promote responsible use of the lake.

The lake briefly froze over on November 19th, but thawed back open the same day so the date didnt count as the official freeze.

Whiteway maintenance guru and track-setter Brad Kitching was out on Lake Windermere earlier this week doing preliminary ice checks, and found the ice about nine inches thick at the south end of the lake, and about six inches thick at the north end. However, Mr. Kitching also found a huge section of thin ice just two inches thick in front of Timber Ridge and Lakeview Meadows.

The ice on the lake is divided into several large sheets that behave much the same as tectonic plates on the earths crust.

Most years, a pressure crack forms from Lake

view Meadows to Fort Point between the largest ice sheet (which takes up the main body of the lake) and the ice sheet that contains the Lakeside Loop part of

the Whiteway.

But this year the pressure crack is about four times wider than what Mr. Kitching has seen before and almost 100 metres wide in some places, he said. Its also the location where vehicles have gone through the ice in the past.

If it snows on top of it, it will be really hard to tell where it is so its a safety concern, he said. If we have enough cold weather it should be fine by Christmas, but right now its an issue.

The ice surface across most of the lake is in pretty rough shape and not really smooth anywhere. The lake will need another freeze and thaw to create better conditions, said Mr. Kitching.

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