Ice in Strait of Belle Isle thickest in over 20 years, coast guard says

Huge increase in calls for icebreaker service

Published on February 28, 2014

The Canadian Coast Guard says the ice conditions in the Strait of Belle Isle off western and northwestern Newfoundland are challenging.

With the wind pushing the ice along the shore, the ice along the western coast of Newfoundland is approximately 70-120 cm thick and covers 90 per cent of the coast up through the Strait of Belle Isle.

A news release notes that cold temperatures early on in the season created ice that never left. The temperature remains cold and the ice is becoming very thick.

“Thick ice like this has not been seen in late February-early March in Strait of Belle Isle since 1989-1990,” the statement says.

“This year there has been a large increase in requests for icebreaker service with the early start to the season and the additional cold weather.”

Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers are being allocated on a priority basis, with passenger ferries being the first priority.

The CCGS Sir William Alexander is presently escorting the MV Sir Robert Bond, and the CCGS Henry Larsen will assist in the days ahead.

Helicopters have been flying in support of ice operations, providing routing information to the icebreakers and other vessels transiting in the area in order to provide updated information.

The Canadian Coast Guard Icebreaking Program is dedicated to ensuring that marine traffic moves safely through or around ice-covered waters. The coast guard has a fleet of 16 icebreakers that can be tasked to support icebreaking services in eastern Canada.