Forget the groundhog, the ice boom coming out means spring in WNY

Mar 3, 2020

An annual rite of spring has begun. The International Joint Commission has announced that preparations are underway for the removal of the Lake Erie ice boom.

Lou Paonessa, Community Affairs Director of the New York Power Authority, says no ice on the lake this year will mark the second earliest removal of the boom.

"The IJC requires that the ice boom comes out by April 1 of every year, but when there's less than 250 square miles of ice on this end of the lake from one point to the mouth of the river," he said. "No ice, so it's a good time to the ice boom out early."

The ice boom has been installed annually at the outlet of Lake Erie by the IJC since 1964. It prevents large masses of ice from flowing down the Niagara River, protecting property, the shoreline and water intakes of the Power Authority's hydroelectric plant. Last year, removal began on April 22.

"At this point in time, the crews are out and they're removing the steel cables from the cables at the bottom of the lake and freeing up the 22 spans," he said. "They'll tow the spans to the breakwall. That's Phase 1. And then Phase 2, once 1 is done, is the actual towing of the spans up the Buffalo River to the storage site. All in all, the whole process with good weather, can take two weeks or so."