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Ice sliced by Confederation Bridge, shaped by nature

A photo from 7,500 feet above the Confederation Bridge shows the bridge piers shredding ice, and the wind and tide action then breaking the strips into big rectangles.- Photo by Paul Tymstra, Sea Eagle Aviation
A photo from 7,500 feet above the Confederation Bridge shows the bridge piers shredding ice, and the wind and tide action then breaking the strips into big rectangles.- Paul Tymstra, Sea Eagle Aviation

Flight school instructor's photo captures Confederation Bridge’s ice-breaking capabilities

BORDEN, P.E.I. - A photo taken from above the Confederation Bridge on Wednesday by flight school instructor Paul Tymstra is generating a lot of hits on Facebook and Twitter.

It shows ice being sliced into long strips as it pushes its way beneath the bridge.

“It broke off, though in uniform, all the time. I don’t know how it did that,” he remarked about what happens to the strips after they push their way through the bridge piers. He suggested, though, the creation of large rectangles floating through the Northumberland Strait must’ve had something to do with the current to the east and the strong westerly wind.

Tymstra, the president and flight instructor of Charlottetown-based Sea Eagle Aviation, said he and a student were on their way back from a training flight to Fredericton around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday when he observed the patterned ice.

“We were basically, on the north side of the bridge fairly high, 7,500 feet.

As I was looking over to my east, I just looked down and saw all those squares.”

He said he didn’t even mention it to his student, but pulled out his cellphone and snapped one photo.

“I thought to myself, ‘that’s really cool.’”

It was while sharing the photo with his wife Wednesday evening that he realized just how cool it was and shared it on social media.

To put the rectangles into perspective, the bridge piers that are designed to break up the ice floes are 250 meters apart. That distance would also represent the width of each of the rectangles. The length of the blocks varies but, on average, the length is about 75 per cent greater than the width.

It is likely that the Confederation Bridge will have lots of slicing to do this winter.
Department of Fisheries and Oceans spokesman, Steve Hachey said ice conditions started developing in the Northumberland Strait earlier than normal this year, resulting in a current thickness of up to 30 centimeters.

P.E.I. almost surrounded

Coast Guard maps show Prince Edward Island almost completely iced in with the exception of open water off the eastern tip of the province.

“The thicker ice conditions are generally found in the shore-fast ice of the bays and harbours in the Southern Regions of the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” Hachey noted.

The Coast Guard, he reported, currently has nine icebreakers in service from Montreal to the Atlantic Ocean, and two more are expected to return to service soon.

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