With Sunday's temperatures touching 60 degrees in The Berkshires, it takes a passerby like myself to wonder if that ice is still thick enough to enjoy some winter lake fun.

Let me preface this by saying, I have never gone ice fishing, ridden a snow mobile on a lake, and I haven't played pond hockey since like 1999, so I'm no expert, however, the information is out there!

The Berkshires loves their winter sports and winter lake use as well, and some push the limits. But how long does it really take to thaw that ice to the point where it is considered unsafe?

THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES, BUT THE FOLLOWING GUIDELINES SHOULD HELP YOU OUT...

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Ice tips to remember:

  • New ice is stronger than old ice. Four inches of clear, newly formed ice may support one person on foot, while a foot or more of old, partially thawed ice may not.
  • Ice doesn't freeze uniformly. Continue to check ice conditions frequently as you venture out onto the ice.
  • Ice formed over flowing water and currents is often more dangerous. Avoid traveling onto ice-bound rivers and streams, as the currents make ice thickness unpredictable. Many lakes and ponds may contain spring holes and other areas of currents that can create deceptively dangerous thin spots.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THOSE TRUCKS AND SUVS ON THE ICE?

The guidelines below are for clear, blue ice on lakes and ponds. White ice or snow ice is only about half as strong as new clear ice and can be very treacherous. Use an ice chisel, auger, or cordless drill to make a hole in the ice and determine its thickness and condition. Bring a tape measure to check ice thickness at regular intervals.

Ice Thickness (inches)Permissible Load (on new clear/blue ice on lakes or ponds)
2" or lessSTAY OFF!
4"Ice fishing or other activities on foot
5"Snowmobile or ATV
8"–12"Car or small pickup truck
12"–15"Medium truck

I had a chance to talk with Pittsfield Fire Deputy Chief Dan Garner on Monday about the current ice safety situation.

Going out on any body of water is always a "do at your own risk" venture. Given the rise in temperatures and rain the past week, I personally would advise against it. -Dep. Daniel Garner

Story to be updated...

More safety information is available at mass.gov.

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