Friday, February 17, 2017

Ice Shoves On Lake Winnebago

Today was a good day.  The average high temperature in south central Wisconsin for this day, February 17, is about 30 degrees.  Today it was 57 degrees.  It was sunny and felt so warm.  The downside of these temperatures is it affects the sturgeon spearing season.  For a 16 day period in February the sturgeon spearers cut holes in the ice of Lake Winnebago and the upriver lakes which include Butte des Morts, Winneconne and Lake Poygan.  Lake Winnebago is a huge fresh water lake located in east central Wisconsin.  It is 30 miles long and 10 miles wide.  Sturgeon spearing is a family tradition for many local families.  They cut a big opening in the ice, watch through the opening for the fish and then spear them.  If the yearly quota is reached earlier than the 16 days, then the season is over.  One fish per person.  This year the ice is deteriorating rapidly because of the warm temperatures.  I wrote a little more about sturgeon a few years ago.  Here is the blog.  For safety sake, many people are giving up before the limit is met.  There are some big ice fishing festivals that have been cancelled and the snowmobilers are not happy either.

The upside besides the warm temperatures was that we were able to view some ice shoves that happened on a portion of Lake Winnebago.

Ice shoves are giant chunks of ice that have been forced to shore by strong winds, current and changes in temperature.  This is very early to see these shoves.  Some people call them ice heaves or ice surges.  They can cause a lot of damage if they push against solid objects like houses, shoreline walls or even lighthouses.  There is a lot of power behind these huge pieces of ice.

We were able to walk out on the ice to view the shoves up close.  I was a little uneasy at first.  I knew I was walking on the lake, and we saw quite a few cracks.

Cracks in the ice.

Then I saw a person drive a pickup truck out on the lake so I felt they would go through the ice before we would.  The ice shoves are massive pieces of ice that a piled up on top of each other.  I took photos which describe them better than I can.

The view as we started walking out on the ice. 

My husband standing in front of one of the ice pieces to give perspective.

I know these unseasonably warm temperatures will not last.  We still have a couple weeks of February and all of March to get through, but the next week looks awesome.  We will enjoy it as much as we can before winter rears its ugly head again.

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