Marine traffic flowing after Coast Guard breaks ice in St. Clair River

·2 min read
The Canadian Coast Guard cutter Samuel Risley is breaking up ice in the Windsor-Detroit Corridor this week. (Dale Molnar/CBC - image credit)
The Canadian Coast Guard cutter Samuel Risley is breaking up ice in the Windsor-Detroit Corridor this week. (Dale Molnar/CBC - image credit)

Cargo ships are moving through the St. Clair River in the Windsor-Detroit corridor again thanks to a resumption in ice breaking in the area.

Windsor Port Authority harbour master Peter Berry said this winter has been a slow one in terms of ice accumulation, and the Canadian Coast Guard cutter Samuel Risley wasn't needed until this week.

"It's been a very slow season for us relative to ice breaking," he told CBC News. "We do speak on the phone daily with industry, with U.S. and Canadian coast guard."

"It is just in the last week that we started to see more ice breaking necessary in this area," Berry said. "And now with the Risley in this area, it's been very helpful to keep things moving."

Berry said wind on Tuesday caused the ice to compress, which meant cargo vessels were waiting for an ice escort.

That process sees the ships follow an ice breaker, which clears the way.

On Wednesday, Berry said, traffic was flowing well, with ships carrying various types of cargo, including salt, home heating fuel, and propane.

And things will likely remain open this week, Berry said.

"The weather forecasts that we have is that this ice will stay as a brash ice, which is typically a rough ice that will break away and fracture," he said. "Even with the cold, we'll probably see an accumulation."

"The last couple of years, we haven't seen much ice, and in 2019 we saw the Great Lakes almost completely freeze over," Berry said. "So it depends on what ... what nature is going to throw at us."

Berry said the Great Lakes are about 23 per cent frozen over. Lake St. Clair is about 80 per cent covered.

Both the St. Clair and Detroit rivers are open, he said.

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