It seems like just yesterday that there was a forecast about another serious snowstorm that was heading into Western New York, and now with this recent report from the US Army Corp of Engineers, it looks like spring is around the corner.


The lack of ice in Lake Erie has been significant to some of the winter weather we've received this winter season. That lack of ice and relatively warm lake water temperatures means that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is ready to remove the Lake Erie - Niagara River Ice Boom any day.

The lake has had very little ice on it over the entire winter, with the current temperatures hovering around 34 degrees. If the weather cooperates over the next few days, engineers and workers are going to begin removing the ice boom as soon as Thursday, March 2nd.

At the end of January there was less than one percent of ice cover on Lake Erie and as of February 28, 2023, the water temperature near the ice boom was 34°F. Due to the lack of ice cover on Lake Erie and the absence of ice in the Maid-of-the-Mist Pool below Niagara Falls, preparations are underway for the removal of the Lake Erie – Niagara River Ice Boom.
-Lynn Greer, US Army Corp of Engineers

Since 1964 the International Joint Commission has installed the almost 2-mile-long ice barrier to help reduce the amount of ice enters the Niagara River which reduces the amount of ice that can cause damage to the hydropower plants that are in, and around, Niagara Falls.

The ice boom consists of 22 spans. The first four are located between Buffalo Harbor’s inner and outer breakwater, and constructed using 16, 15-foot-long mini pontoons. The remainder of the boom is constructed using a series of steel pontoons each 30-feet-long and 30 inches in diameter... Each span is built using up to 10 pontoons, anchored to the bottom of the lake at 400 foot intervals by 2.5 inch steel cables.
-IJC Ice Boom Fact Sheet

The ice boom itself is operated and owned, jointly, by The New York Power Authority (NYPA) and Ontario Power Generation (OPG). The two organizations are responsible for its' annual installation, removal, and maintenance.

A reduction in ice entering the river reduces the potential for ice jams, which can result in damage to shoreline property and significantly reduce water flow for hydroelectric power production
-IJC Press Release

The IJC was created by the governments of Canada and the United States to help implement the goals of the 1909 Border Waters Treaty. The primary role of the IJC is to approve projects that can have an effect on water levels and flows along the international boundary and to investigate issues that involve the water boundary. along with suggesting solutions.

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While it's early in the season for the boom to come out, it's not the earliest it has ever happened. In 2012 the boom was removed on February 28th.

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