The ice-breakers arrive in Duluth

Photo courtesy crew of the Mackinaw

It must feel like the cavalry has arrived to the besieged cities of Lake Superior.

Three Coast Guard ice breakers arrived in Duluth yesterday, sailing under the Aerial Lift Bridge in the closest sign of spring that we get around here anymore.

It took the ice breakers more than three days to travel from the Soo Locks at the far eastern tip of the lake to Duluth, a trip that normally only takes 24 hours, MPR News’ Dan Kraker reports:

Mike Davanzo, commanding officer of the Mackinaw, encountered 12-foot tall “pressure ridges” that extended for up to 20 miles, where the wind stacks up plates of ice on top of the surface.

“Which made it challenging to get through, so it was very difficult to make a straight course here,” he said. “A lot of times the best course of action is going around them, because you can imagine trying to go through a 12-foot wall.”

The ice breakers will leave tomorrow for Two Harbors to escort three ships carrying iron ore across the lake to the Soo Locks. They’ll return to Duluth with four different ships to load with cargo. This is the first time convoys have been needed across the entire lake since at least the 1970s.

If you missed it, check out last week’s story and photo gallery on the icebreakers in the Duluth Harbor.