Archive for December, 2011

Waiting on Thin Ice

The suspense is killing me. A week ago my front yard was one gigantic skating rink, the ice smooth as glass. It’s so tempting, but if I step onto the ice before it’s ready, I will be in for the swim of my life.

This is what the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources web page advises:

When is ice safe?

There really is no sure answer. You can’t judge the strength of ice just by its appearance, age, thickness, temperature, or whether or not the ice is covered with snow. Strength is based on all these factors — plus the depth of water under the ice, size of the water body, water chemistry and currents, the distribution of the load on the ice, and local climatic conditions.

There is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice.

Thanks for clearing up the ambiguities, Mr. DNR. This morning the temperature was -17, plenty cold for “spontaneous nucleation,” and all the other chemical reactions scientists say have to take place for lake ice to properly form. It looks solid. And there’s even a thin layer of snow, making the lake almost perfect for skate skiing. But what day do I finally take that leap of faith, click into my skis, and start gliding? Your guess is as good as mine.