Ice surrounds P.E.I.’s shoreline

Nancy MacPhee
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More ice this year compared to last January

SUMMERSIDE — From as far as the eye can see, ice covers the waters and butts the shores off Prince Edward Island.

A lone smelt shack sits on the ice off Green’s Shore in Summerside.

Linda Libby, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, although not an ice expert, said the amount of ice in the Northumberland Strait and the Gulf of St. Lawrence surrounding the P.E.I. is greater than this time last year.

The reason, said Libby, is colder temperatures, higher winds and more snowstorms during the month of December as compared to December 2012.

“It’s indicating that pretty much all the shoreline of Prince Edward Island is covered in ice with the exception of the eastern end of the province, from about Wood Islands up to about East Point. That is the only area that doesn’t have good ice,” said Libby. “It is all pretty solid ice. It’s about nine tenths concentration ice there. That means there might be a few breaks or leads in it but it is pretty much solid ice.”

She said as of Jan. 6, 2013, there was “a little bit of ice forming” particularly in the bays around the Island, adding, “We did have some fairly good ice, a nine to ten tenths concentration in the Northumberland Strait.”

But, added Libby, that was only in a small section of the strait, from Wood Islands to Pictou, N.S., and back almost to Summerside.

“I did look at the summary for last year’s winter and they pointed out… the air temperature for the whole season, from November through late April… was one to one and a half degrees above normal for that time period, in particular at the beginning of the season,” she said. “November through mid January (2013), above normal air temperatures were recorded. Last December, we were warmer than normal with very little snow.”

A far cry, she added, from last month.

“This year, we had a very noticeable colder than normal December,” said Libby. “Certainly those colder than normal temperatures have had an influence on how much ice forms.”

In winter, ice normally covers a little more than four million square kilometres in Canadian waters. The amount of ice that melts from winter to the end of summer is enough to cover the surface of 60 per cent of Canada’s provinces.

Each year, about 40,000 icebergs migrate through the country’s waters with only the Pacific Coast being unaffected by ice.

Organizations: Environment Canada, Pacific Coast

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Wood Islands, East Point Pictou Summerside Canada

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