Matanuska-Susitna Borough

MSB Says to Use Caution On Frozen Waterways

Mat-Su | Stefan Hinman | Friday, November 04, 2022

The Mat-Su Borough Department of Emergency Services reminds our community to exercise extreme caution on local lakes and waterways as the cold temperatures settle in.  With the numerous ways people choose recreate on our waterways including ice skating, pond hockey, ice fishing, snowshoeing, skiing and snow-machining, this is a very hazardous time of the year as the ice is just forming.  Ice forms at very different rates with inconsistent capacities and those choosing to recreate on lakes and rivers must be aware of the hazards.

  • Ice is never of uniform thickness and weight capacity. Check ice thickness carefully before committing.
  • Ice strength cannot be judged by appearance. Strength is affected by age, thickness, temperature, snow-load and the characteristics of the water beneath it.
  • Ice is weaker on rivers and over moving water- account for this difference.
  • Ice forms thicker over the shallow areas first, often making it strong around the edges and weaker in the middle. This can present a false sense of security.
  • Watch for indications of weak ice such as standing water, slush, wet cracks in the ice, overflow - or water flowing on the ice surface, pressure ridges, and where obstructions penetrate the ice surface.
  • Snow load affects ice capacity. Be especially cautious when there is snowfall early in the season slowing ice formation and adding weight. Snow may hide deficiencies in the ice.
  • There is no such thing as 100% safe ice- always be vigilant and have someone with you.
  • Be careful around cold water as hypothermia sets in extremely fast once you are wet.
  • Keep pets and dogs off weak ice. The best way to avoid an emergency is to stay off the ice all together.
  • Call 911 immediately if someone falls through or becomes stuck on or through weak ice.

The Department of Emergency Services hopes all visitors and residents can recreate in our vast community safely.