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DEC: Ice conditions poor on Adirondack waters

An official with the state Department of Environmental Conservation Region 5 headquarters in Ray Brook says heavy snows and earlier thaws have made ice conditions inconsistent.

DEC Region 5 spokesman David Winchell says snowmobilers, ice anglers, skiers, snowshoers and other recreationists should be wary of poor ice conditions on Adirondack lakes, ponds, and other water bodies.

According to Winchell, the weight of snow from recent storms has caused ice to sink slightly, forcing waters from below up to the surface.

Water is up to a foot deep in some areas - and when that water freezes, it creates alternating layers of ice and water, all covered by a blanket of snow.

The snow acts as an insulator, Winchell says, preventing the water from refreezing completely - despite cold temperatures.

According to Winchell, DEC has received numerous reports of snowmobiles and other vehicles getting stuck in the slushy mix of ice and water. Some of those snowmobiles have actually broken through thin ice.

But these conditions are also dangerous to non-motorized traffic. Winchell notes human travel can be difficult and sometimes exhausting, leading to the risk of hypothermia.

The snow cover is also making it difficult for outdoor enthusiasts to see where the ice is thin.

Winchell says the public needs to be cautious before venturing out onto lakes and ponds. DEC recommends checking ice depth before crossing waterways and carrying ice picks and throw ropes.

A person that falls through the ice has up to five minutes to reach dry land before the cold drains their strength and concentration, Winchell says, so bringing fire-making supplies and wearing appropriate clothing is critical to an individual's safety.

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