DULUTH, MN–Step one in prepping for the 2021 shipping season in the Twin Ports started Wednesday as the U.S. Coast Guard broke up ice with ice cutter ALDER.
“We’re getting ready for shipping to return to Duluth, the locks of Soo St. Marie opens on the 25th and we need to have everything ready so when ships come in, they can actually get to where they need to go,” said Deck Watch Officer, ENS Kyle Hanson.
The U.S. Coast Guard will break up the ice in the Duluth Superior area and make their way up to Thunder Bay and over to the Apostle Islands over the next few days.
“There’s more ice on the lake this year than there was last year. There was about 44 percent coverage at peak this year. Compared to last year it was 13 percent,” said Hanson.
According to NOAA this year’s peak was back in the middle of February during our cold snap.
But with warmer temperatures coming and going, Duluth’s basin is already open water, and Coast Guard members say it won’t be too difficult to break up any ice that’s still out there.
Hanson added, “As long as it doesn’t freeze over it stays open, but if it stays below freezing, it’ll freeze back over, and we’ll need to go back out.”
Other preparations for Wednesday’s ice breaking process included training for emergency procedures and preparing the boat.
Coast Guard members said COVID-19 hasn’t had a huge impact regarding operations.
All members are practicing social distancing and mask-wearing while on the ALDER.
The Soo Locks open March 25, after that, it’s just a matter of time before we see ships entering the Twin Ports.
For the latest updates, visit the U.S. Coast Guard’s Facebook page.