Rinks open again
City had closed ice sheets due to warm weather
By: Peter Boer
| Posted: Friday, Jan 18, 2013 06:30 pm
St. Albert’s rinks were opened Wednesday, mere hours after the city announced they were closed due to unseasonably warm temperatures.
With temperatures in the Capital region setting a January record for warmth at 7.7 C, the ice surfaces around the city became unstable. Bruce Thompson, operations manager for the city’s public works department, said it was the sun more than the warmth that caused the ice to weaken so significantly.
“It’s the actual effect of the sun,” Thompson said. “If there’s cloud cover with ambient air temperatures, the ice can keep its integrity. But once the sun comes out, it gets a lot warmer. It starts warming up the boards.”
Cloud cover since Tuesday is the reason the city was able to re-open its rinks despite daytime temperatures above zero, Thompson said.
“If they start to deteriorate again, we’ll close them again. We don’t like having to open and close them. (The weather) is just so unusual.”
The city opened all 27 of its outdoor rinks in mid-December.
Residents are still advised to steer clear of stormwater ponds, lakes and rivers as warm temperatures, as well as warm water trickling out of storm drains, can significantly weaken surface ice.
“We have signage up around stormwater ponds but it’s good to take extra precautions,” Thompson said.
Still unknown is when Lacombe Lake will be open for skating. The lake surface, a popular skating location, has not yet been deemed safe by the city. Crews went to the lake to prepare the skating surface just before Christmas but found an unknown person had chopped several holes in the ice, most likely with a chainsaw. The water that bubbled up through the holes weakened a good portion of the ice surface.
Thompson is hoping the warm weather and any following refreeze will solidify the ice at the park.
“We’re monitoring it every second day. It’s frustrating,” Thompson said.