Ice Boom's removal signals spring's arrival

Mar 7, 2017

A sure sign that spring is just around the corner can be seen on the waters off of Buffalo. Crews from the New York Power Authority started the process of removing the nearly 1.66 mile long Lake Erie - Niagara River Ice Boom on Monday.

Credit NYPA

Keith Koralewski, Alternate U.S. Chair to the International Niagara Working Committee says the ice boom is to be removed by April 1 or when there is less than 250 square miles of ice cover on the eastern end of Lake Erie. But Koralewski says mild winter weather has kept Lake Erie mostly ice-free.  
"The earliest that the ice boom has ever been removed is February 28, so it's about within a week or so from the earliest date. But typically, when we see mild winters like this, the power entities actually like to get the ice boom out sooner rather than later," Koralewski said.  

The boom has been installed every fall since 1964 near the outlet of Lake Erie to prevent ice jams on the Niagara River from blocking the water intakes for the U.S. and Canadian hydroelectric power projects downstream. It also reduces the potential for shoreline damage. 

The latest removal date is May 3, 1971. Koralewski says it could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to remove the boom's 22 spans, depending on lake conditions.