April 14, 2024
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2022/2/8 Streamflows

Streamflow Matters
Interview with CPO John Massen, Public Relations Officer for USA Coast Guard District 9

Sandusky River at Upper Sandusky is noted flowing much higher this week over last week’s reported values, according to provisional data from the USGS WaterWatch. These flows above freezing temperature (.5°C to 1°C) at the point of discharge into Lake Erie at Sandusky Bay, can contribute to unstable ice conditions, such as the breaking away of an ice floe that stranded 18 snowmobilers on the weekend.

WTOH contacted CPO John Massen, Public Relations Officer for USA Coast Guard District 9, Great Lakes at his Cleveland post. According to Officer Massen, the stranded civilians were spotted by a helicopter on routine patrol. The rescue involved Coast Guard assets: helicopter and boat, along with civilian volunteer effort. All 18 were extracted from the ice floe and returned to land with no injuries.

Massen reiterates the Coast Guard standard message to the public

“no ice is safe ice". Massen continued, “People need to have life jackets out there, ice is not land, it’s just frozen water. "Extra care and caution should be taken in windy conditions, especially combined with the warmer weather as experienced on the weekend.

For maritime distress in the greater Cleveland area, call: (716) 843-9527

On VHF-FM Channel 16 (156.8 MHz), dial 911

Great Lakes, Ninth District Command Center Number: (216) 902-6117 - For maritime emergency use only.

WTOH contacted USGS Chief Hydrologist for Ohio, Tom Harris to help us understand how an increased volume of flow into Sandusky Bay in the last few days could be impacting the stability of ice conditions on Lake Erie.

“Ice-affected rivers do put off incorrect streamflow readings.”The flow values on Rock Creek at Tiffin, for example, are not actually 344x higher than last week, according to Harris, this would be a data error. Harris did say however, people should not assume that ice-affected rivers are low inflow volume. "We have snowmelt happening, the higher volume of water flowing into the lake, along with wind and warmer weather, people should really consider all of these factors when heading out on the ice.”

For more information on Great Lakes ice conditions, see https://www.glerl.noaa.gov/data/ice/

“GLSEA (The Great Lakes Surface Environmental Analysis) is a digital map of the Great Lakes surface water temperature and ice cover which is produced daily at GLERL.”

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