Despite an early start to ice growth in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Northumberland Strait this winter, current conditions are in line with the Canadian Coast Guard’s 30-year average.
And if the build-up of ice has performed as normal, Trevor Hodgson, the Coast Guard’s acting superintendent of Ice Operations Atlantic says the pack’s departure should occur pretty much as normal, too.
Hodgson said a cold snap in December extending into early January got the ice started a little sooner than normal.
“The way the ice normally happens is, while you’re growing it in the Northumberland Strait, it is also pushing down the (St Lawrence) River out towards the Gulf. That’s why we sort of had a big influx of ice into the Gulf early on into the season,” Hodgson explained. “It’s just slowly been growing, pretty steadily, since then.”
But it has reached its peak, he suggested. “From now on, it’s going to be, basically, pushing out of the Gulf.
Although some ice has already pushed out through the Cabot Strait, Hodgson said much of the Gulf is still covered with ice of varying concentration. He noted there is some open water in the Northumberland Strait and around P.E.I. currently, and that’s due to westerly and southwesterly winds pushing the pack ice to the northeast.
With the wind coming out of the northeast for the next few days that should push the ice pack back against P.E.I.’s north coast he said.
But the natural departure has commenced. Hodgson said current projections have the Gulf about half-full of ice by April 2 with the western section, except for bays and harbours, almost ice free. A week after that and most of the ice should be cleared out of the Gulf.
Ice breaking operations for shipping are being carried out as required, Hodson reported. He said a boat is due into Summerside next week and there will be a few arriving in Charlottetown before the strait is ice-free.