Saturday, February 24, 2007

Frozen Lake Erie turns back another

Frozen Lake Erie turns back another
Posted by Michael Scott February 24, 2007 19:48PM
Categories: Breaking News

If Lake Erie played in an ice hockey league, it's record would be 2-0-1 this weekend.

After twice turning back the U.S. Coast Guard ice cutter Neah Bay -- sending it home empty-handed after long bouts both Friday and Saturday -- the stubbornly frozen lake played to a virtual tie with the Canadian Coast Guard's best boat Saturday afternoon.

The gargantuan Samuel Risley, a 230-foot and 3,200-ton ship called "unstoppable" on the web site was dispatched from Ontario late Friday and arrived outside Fairport Harbor sometime after 4 p.m. Saturday.

But little Lake Erie stopped the unstoppable -- even if only because the battle was shortened on account of darkness.

The Risley had planned to go further up the Grand River to alleviate ice pressure and prevent future flooding. Instead, it spent nearly three hours pounding into line after line of "windrows," fractured ice reconfigured by northerly wind into rock-solid barriers jutting up from the surface of the frozen lake.

Soon after nightfall, the Risley was sent on another mission to accompany a tanker across the lake, a Canadian spokesman said.

Those windrows had stopped the Neah Bay after half-day voyages, which only got the boat outside of the Chagrin River in Eastlake. The U.S. boat had hoped to meet up with the Canadians Saturday to double-team the ice buildup.

Neah Bay captain Lt. Eric Peace had said, however, that southeastern winds expected as early as today, although possibly bringing icy rain, may also work to push some of the windrows in the other direction - back out into the lake.

That's hopeful news for Fairport Harbor residents, who have been warily eyeing the frozen river mouth for several weeks.

To see pictures and hear more the Neah Bay's attempt on Friday, go to

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