Weather creating dangerous conditions

Posted at 7:25 PM, Feb 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-17 19:28:59-05

This winter's fluctuating temperatures are creating dangerous conditions on lakes, which are not as frozen as they first appear.

Three snowmobilers fell through the ice on a Michigan Center Lake on Wednesday. It's the second accident on the ice there in just a week.

John Dann takes his snowmobile out on Center Lake in Jackson County as often as he can. Dann says a fresh coat of snow is making the ice look more safe than it actually is.

"It can be deceiving," Dann explained. "We have the ice right here and in some places we don't."

Before taking his snowmobile out, Dann says he always checks the thickness of the ice. Despite the thickness in one spot, Dann says it's not consistent across the lake.

When he's out Dann says he's always checking his surroundings, looking for spots where the ice looks slushy or he can see water.

"It's good to scope it out in the day time," Dann added. "You've got to look ahead at least 50 ft to make sure that you're not looking at open water."

Public safety officers say the ice should be at least 4 inches before you think about standing on it, and 5 inches for snowmobiling.

With a warm-up in the forecast this weekend, public safety officers are urging people to be careful.

"Often times that weakens the ice in certain locations. Even though the thickness may be there it still creates a weakness of the ice structure as it forms back over," said Blackman-Leoni Public Safety Deputy Director Scott Grajewski.

If someone falls through the ice Grajewski says there isn't a lot of time to get them out and warmed up.

"Time is of utmost essence, so trying to get to that person and get them out--hypothermia is usually within minutes of taking effect," Grajewski added.

That's why officers say you should always let someone know where you're going to be on the ice.

"Have your cell phone with you whenever you go out there," Grajewski said. "If an incident does occur you're able to make that phone call to 9-11.

If the temperatures get too warm Dann says he doesn't risk it.

"If there's any question stay home," he said.