Safety Reminder: as Local Retention Ponds freeze, no ice is 100% safe

It’s not that often that the Snoqualmie Valley gets long enough cold snaps to freeze over local ponds to the extent that rocks don’t break through, but as we are about halfway through this week’s predicted sub-freezing cold spell, that scenario seems to be playing out.

Local retention ponds (and in Snoqualmie, for example, there are a lot) are freezing over – and once again you can see evidence rocks are being thrown into them to see if the ice will break.

The retention pond at Jeanne Hansen Park has scattered rocks sitting atop its frozen water. In December 2013, during another long cold snap, kids were spotted throwing rocks onto the ice of the Snoqualmie Community Park retention pond and then sliding on its frozen edges.

This past December an Eagle Pointe resident reported that kids were also playing around the Jeanne Hansen retention pond, but at that time it was not frozen over. The resident said one child slipped in, but luckily only his legs submerged. This pond, like the one at Snoqualmie Community Park, is easily accessible, surrounded by a 3-foot split rail fence.

In 2013, the City of Snoqualmie stated it did not recommend walking on frozen retention ponds – and even with weeklong freezing temperatures, that still doesn’t ensure the ice is thick enough to support people – even small people.

Safety precaution: just because rocks aren’t breaking the ice, doesn’t mean it’s safe to walk on. According to a General Ice Thickness Guideline, if ice is two inches or less, people should stay off.  Once it reaches four inches in thickness, it is safe for ice fishing or activities on foot. But as a rule, no ice is 100% safe.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) also cautions that ice does not freeze evenly.  It can be three inches in one spot and then one inch nearby. At the Jeanne Hansen Park retention pond, rocks break through on one part and bounce along the ice in a different area.

DNR says falling through ice into frigid water can be fatal within a few minutes.

Snoqualmie Valley temperatures are expected to moderate, making it over the freezing mark this Saturday, January 7th. Midweek overnight lows have been in the mid to upper teens, with day time temps have struggling to make it over 30 degrees.

Frozen retention park at Jeanne Hansen Park, 1/4/17. Some rocks are scattered on top the ice in various areas.

 

 

 

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