When the ice gets too thick

There’s about 24 inches of ice on Lake of the Woods, and why wouldn’t there be? The self-proclaimed “walleye capital of the world” is practically at the north pole.

Ice fishing? Perfectly safe. What could go wrong with 24 inches of ice?

This.

What’s happening here? How can it be so cold and have a crack develop when there’s two feet of ice?

It’s not melting; it cracked because of the cold. As the ice gets thicker, it also gets heavier, and starts to sink until breaks. (disputed: see below)

Ice is cool like that.

(h/t: Gary Taylor)

  • RBHolb

    The Lake Ice Gods are hard to please. I’ve stopped trying.

  • They are hoping to open the ice road between Madeline Island and Bayfield, WI. I’d never use it – that lake is deep and soooo cold!

    • What could go wrong?

      https://youtu.be/q-eLTzps5Fk

      • Jim in RF

        okay. Now I’ve seen everything.

      • Wow, thanks for this – I’d never known about it. I sure remember that winter, though – the one I drove around a grove of trees in Blue Earth County on clear blacktop and encountered a four foot snowdrift across the road. Packed the Vega’s engine compartment with snow and snapped the timing belt, hiked to farm house and called a friend who came down the road with a tractor and pulled that sorry excuse for a car to his machine shed. We waited out a horrible blizzard and got the super cold the next day, but rigged a kero heater to some stove pipes into the engine compartment and thawed it out, then replaced the timing belt one the road to New Ulm got plowed. Good times.

  • Mike Worcester

    Our home sat just above Leech Lake and when it got cold and the ice was booming and popping is was too cool, esp when it make so much noise it rattled the windows on the house. When you were on the lake and it boomed right underneath you, not so cool.

  • Guest

    it cracked because of the cold. As the ice gets thicker, it also gets heavier, and starts to sink until breaks = = = absolutely incorrect. As ice gets thicker it floats even more. There are zero icebergs that have sunk because they were “too thick”.

    • The scientists at the link disagree with you.

      “When they get colder, they get heavier, and they sink.”

      I’ll leave it to you physicists to sort it out.

      • LieutenantLefse

        Bob, you left out part of that quote:

        “In addition to that, it [ice] floats. I sort of took that for granted, but not
        very many substances do that. When they get colder, they get heavier,
        and they sink”

        The “they” refers to other substances, not ice.

      • Seth White

        Sorry, Bob, but I think the “they” the scientists are discussing are substances other than water. In context, they’re talking about all the things that make ice unique and, to them, fascinating.

        “In addition to that, [ice] floats. I sort of took that for granted, but not very many substances do that. When they get colder, they get heavier, and they sink.”

        I’m no physicist (I’m a window cleaner), but I think the property that causes ice—and anything else—to float on water is its density, which is constant and independent of its weight.

        And don’t take this the wrong way, but isn’t one of your responsibilities as a journalist to “sort it out” for your readers before you publish, not to ask them to sort it out after the fact?

    • Jack Ungerleider

      Try this experiment:

      Materials:
      Ice cubes of varying sizes
      Large glass with water (1/2 to 3/4 full)
      Spoon – to fish out ice cubes from water

      Place ice cubes in water one at a time. Notice the amount of ice in the water and out of the water.

      What you should see: Because the relative density of the ice to the water is reasonably constant the buoyancy of the ice is consistent. The percentage of the mass of the ice cube that pokes above water is about the same. The bigger the ice cube the more of it is under water.

  • Barton

    One of these winters I want to get up to Lake Superior when the ice plates come to shore. I love the photos (and videos with sound) of those sheets of ice stacking against each other on the shore. Ice is just so cool (when I’m not driving in it, or worrying about ice cycles dropping on my head….)