Coast Guard urges caution as warmer weather returns

Posted at 1:09 PM, Dec 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-22 14:09:20-05

The Coast Guard is urging people to use extreme caution on and near waterways ahead of the warmer temperatures forecasted to return this weekend.

According to the Coast Guard, the above-freezing temperatures could pose safety concerns throughout Lake Michigan and inland rivers, streams and ponds that have become frozen over the past few weeks.

Rising temperatures are expected to cause recently-frozen waters to further melt and become weak.

"Ice is unpredictable and the thickness can vary, even in small areas," the Coast Guard warns. "Water currents, particularly around narrow spots, bridges, inlets and outlets, are always suspect for thin ice."

The Coast Guard says to stay away from cracks, seams, pressure ridges, slushy areas and darker areas since these signify thinner ice.

In addition, the Coast Guard explains that ice near the shore of a frozen lake may be unsafe and weaker due to shifting, expansion and sunlight reflecting off the bottom.

A majority of Coast Guard units around Lake Michigan have winterized their rescue boats and as a result, the Coast Guard says they have reduced capability to respond to anyone in distress on the water.

The Coast Guard is encouraging people to remain clear of shorelines, piers, jetties, rocks, walkways and jogging paths that may have become covered in layers of ice.