Ice forming quickly, but still thin
Subfreezing temperatures both day and night have caused local lakes to begin to ice up rapidly, but it’s still too soon to venture out onto frozen surfaces.
Municipality of Anchorage Parks and Recreation parks superintendent Josh Durand said the department will begin to issue online ice thickness reports once several inches have formed.
“It first happens when we’re identifying the ice is safe for us to maintain,” Durand said on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Last year, that date was Nov. 29, while in 2015 it was Nov. 17.
“Typically right around Thanksgiving is when we’re putting our reports out,” he said.
In addition to ice thickness reports, the municipality will also be issuing trails reports for its groomed multiuse and ski trails.
Perhaps the most interesting thing going on with winter trails, Durand said, is the planned rollout of a GIS (Geographic Information System) that will show online users which area ski trails have been groomed in real time.
“It’s a new thing that we’re working on,” he said.
Durand said he’s not sure when the system will be up and running, but the department plans to have it operational sometime this winter. The muni’s weekly online updates will begin to appear when lake ice is thick enough for walking, fishing and skating — or whenever trails have enough snow for grooming.
Until then, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game warns people to stay off the ice until there’s 5-6 inches of clear ice atop lake surfaces. The department recommends at least 12 inches of ice for vehicle traffic. Ice can become thick enough to walk on by mid late November, but officials urge extreme caution, especially during early season conditions.
“If the ice doesn’t seem safe to you, don’t go out,” the department writes in its online ice fishing guide.