July 19, 2018
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Thaw calls for caution on Maine’s frozen waters

Jamie Gemmiti | AP
Jamie Gemmiti | AP
File photo of an ice fishing bob house sitting on melting surface ice on Crystal Lake in Eaton, N.H. Officials are urging caution when it comes to thawing ice due to this week's unseasonably warm temperatures.
By John Holyoke, BDN Staff

In the wake of an ATV accident on Alamoosook Lake last week, and with potential record high temperatures on tap for Wednesday, Maine Game Warden Jim Fahey cautioned Mainers to pay close attention to conditions over the coming days.

On Friday, two ATV riders fell through thin ice on Alamoosook Lake in Orland and were rescued. Wednesday’s weather forecasts call for temps in the 60s around the state.

“Probably what will be a record warm temperature tomorrow, coming on the heels of warmer than average temperatures day and night that we’ve been experiencing [will cause] things to melt,” Fahey said. “Snow melt and rainwater is going to run off somewhere. When it finds its way into lakes and ponds, that will compromise the ice near those inlets, and sometimes, for some distance out into the lake or pond.”

Fahey said one particularly treacherous water in the Bangor area immediately comes to mind when conditions get iffy.

“I know from first-hand observation the influence of that inlet [at Hermon Pond] can be for hundreds of yards,” Fahey said. “Ice fishermen who go there see how thin the ice is over the channel as compared to of to the sides [of that channel].”

Off to the sides the ice may be 24 inches thick, according to Fahey, but over the inlet it could be just eight inches thick.

“After this thaw and record warm, that ice [on Hermon Pond and similar ponds] might become dangerously thin,” he said. “The burden is on the angler or the snowmobiler to identify or recognize where these inlets and outlets and thoroughfares are. That’s likely where the ice will be compromised first.”

Hazardous conditions may also exist on trails deep in the woods, at water crossings over brooks, he said.

“The snowmobile trails don’t always have wooden bridges over water hazards,” Fahey said. “Anytime there’s a sled trail that’s adjacent to or crossing brooks and streams, people will want to look for signage that caution that there’s a water crossing. And if there’s no permanent bridge, is it prudent to proceed?”

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