Parks and Recreation cautions Alaskans to be wary of thin ice

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - While some Alaskans are already venturing out to different lakes for outdoor recreating, Parks and Recreation cautions enthusiasts the ice may not be thick enough everywhere just yet.

John Rodda, Anchorage's Parks and Recreation director, says crews usually begin measuring ice thickness around local lakes sometime around November 10 at the earliest, and Thanksgiving at the latest.

"Lots of people think that it gets 4 or 5 inches that it's safe to go on, we can't go on because of the equipment we use we can't take a loaded truck and a loaded tank until there's 12 inches of ice," Rodda said. "It has to support you know that kind of weight, so it may appear that it's safe, but for us we have to be ultra safe when taking equipment out there as well."

On Monday, several Alaskans spent part of the day at Cheney Lake ice fishing.

Anthony Navaroli said he felt safe, but he looks for signs of thin ice before venturing onto the lake.

"The clearness of the ice, sometimes you can see right through it, it's really thin, but right now it's kind of thick right now," Navaroli said.

Rodda said while his best guess without measuring the ice at Cheney Lake was around 4 or 5 inches, it may not be the case at all lakes.

"You really do need to be aware of where you're going because all of the lakes around here have different characteristics," Rodda said. "The lagoon has different characteristics, so you wanna know where you're going to go on the ice whether you're gonna skate, walk, or you're gonna ice fish or whatever you're gonna do."

Anyone planning to go out onto the ice, Rodda said, is going at their own risk.

Signs of weak ice include:

  • Ice of varying colors like black or gray

  • Ice near obstructions like vegetation, logs and rocks

  • Slush or snow on ice

  • Bubbles or water on the ice surface

  • Porous quality of ice

  • Cracks in the ice

  • Pressure ridges or faults

  • Water running underneath the ice

  • Open water in the middle of deep lakes

Parks & Recreation has some guidelines about how thick the ice should be to safely support certain activities:
Walking without stopping, 2 inches
Ice fishing, 4 inches
Snowmachining, 5 inches
Vehicles, 8 to 12 inches

Click the link below for updates on ice thickness around local lakes.

Anchorage Parks & Recreation Department

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