Despite recent cold, ice still very unsafe - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Despite recent cold, ice still very unsafe

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SOUTHWICK, MA (WSHM) -

Despite the frigid air this past week, area lakes and ponds are still unsafe to go out on for various winter activities.

Congamond Lake in Southwick is a noteworthy example, where it will take until much later in the winter season for the lake temperatures to catch up with the colder air, and develop safer, thick ice.

Southwick Fire Chief Richard Anderson knows the popularity of Congamond Lake, but he also knows the dangers.

"We have a recreational community here, so as soon as there is ice out there, there are snowmobiles, ice fishing, and all kinds of events," said Anderson.

According to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, ice thicknesses of 2 inches or less must not be walked on. An ice thickness of 4 inches or less is suitable of ice fishing and other activities on foot. Snowmobiles and ATVs must have an ice thickness of 5 inches or greater.

Adding to the hazard at Congamond Lake, it is spring-fed by potentially warmer ground water. This could create great variability of where the ice is thick and thin.

"Because of the springs, you don't know what the ice thickness is," said Anderson. "There could be pockets where it's not as thick as you think it is. You can't venture to other parts of the ice because you don't know if it's the same thickness."

Anderson also noted that the ground is barely frozen, let alone a lake being safe enough to be on right now. It will take a prolonged period of cold through a longer stretch of the winter for it to be safer.

"We are a little behind the curve here, so you just got to be real careful and don't venture out if you don't know," said Anderson.

When it is safe later in the winter, MassWildlife provides information on how to test the thickness of the ice.

Copyright 2013 WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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