Good Ice Road

Island Gazette, Madeline Island In Lake Superior
From: From Vol. 46 No. 2 January 20 to March 17, 2009

A Super Good Ice Road

The Island is having one of the best ice road years in 12 years hitting 60 days of regular vehicle crossing on Wednesday, March 18th.  In 1997 we had 67 days ending on March 26th.

The Ice Road has been very wide, straight and has stayed in one place all year until March 9th when Arnie and crew moved it over closer to the trees.  The old road had finally gotten a little worn out with a few too many cracks appearing.

The Ice Road has had very heavy traffic this year, however most everyone has obeyed the 15 mph speed limit and even better than that, they have been very good about lightning up when hauling loads. Lumber trucks and other larger trucks have been ok to cross this year due to the thick ice we have had.

We have all just totally enjoyed going to the mainland to do just about anything, just because we can. We can’t go to Ashland without bumping into several Islanders on any given day.

This year was a very cold December and an even colder January with 14 days in that month alone with temperatures that were below -10 degrees made an ice road about 36 inches thick.

The boats shut down on January 1st, the earliest in 19 years when the boats quit on December 30th in 1990. The boats have quit earlier than January 1st only six times since 1963.

This cold winter will have a total of 24 days with lows below -10 degrees. We haven’t been even close to that number since 1996 when we had 28 days that cold.  That year the Ice Road lasted 71 days and the boats first run was on April 25th. Talk about cabin fever!

The 45 year average the boats are down is 78 days. We are at 62 days and still crossing with cars, but not for long. When the boats will run, however, is still nowhere in sight.

Regular car travel will be finished any day now with slush and water getting deeper and the beach approach in Bayfield beginning to thaw out.  We will likely have a few days of the winter transportation vans running and parking on the ice and people walking to shore.  4-wheel drives will likely continue to drive for a few more days, plowing through the slush, slop and water holes and tearing deep ruts into the beach on the Bayfield side, getting stuck, until they get tired of getting stuck in the sand and pulling each other out.

It appears the first boats will not run until sometime in the first week in April or later, but only the weather knows for sure.

Island Gazette, Madeline Island In Lake Superior
Evan Erickson, Publisher / Waggie Erickson, Editor
Subscription: $20/year
PO Box 400, La Pointe, WI 54850 or isg@cheqnet.net