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Watch Put-in-Bay Fire Department's airboat navigate an icy Lake Erie

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Posted at 2:04 PM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 14:04:27-05

PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio — The Put-in-Bay Volunteer Fire Department took their airboat out onto Lake Erie earlier this week and posted video from the excursion to show people the difficulty and danger in navigating the iced-over lake.

The lake is overtaken with shove ice, or a pileup of ice along shore, which the department says makes it extremely difficult to navigate around Put-in-Bay. Most places had 4 to 6 inches of ice, but in places that were open water just a few days ago, the smoother, flatter ice is just 1-inch thick, at best.

“Please exercise extreme caution while out on the lake. While it has been cold, it has not made as much ice as people would think,” fire officials stated in a Facebook post. “Being it is so difficult to navigate, it would take us a lot longer to respond if the need arises. Remember, no ice is safe ice and use your best judgment.”

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NOAA map showing the concentration of ice on Lake Erie. Darker areas represent more ice concentration, with the darkest color being 100% ice concentration.

While data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration does show a near 100% concentration of ice along the Lake Erie shoreline in Northeast Ohio, it is thinner near the shore.

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NOAA map showing the thickness of ice on Lake Erie, with the lighter color representing thinner ice. Contour lines represent a 5cm change in thickness.