MARIETTA, Ohio (WTAP) - “You only need a small crack a small flaw a small variation in the thickness to create a life changing, a life ending problem.”
Sheets of ice have covered many local rivers in the Mid-Ohio Valley. But the Director of Environmental Sciences at Marietta College says venturing out onto them would be “walking on thin ice”.
“Rivers are dynamic systems. Even when you've got ice covering the surface the water below it is still liquid, it’s still moving, it’s still bringing heat to and away from the ice; it's still acting in a dynamic fashion.”
If you're at a stable non moving body of water like a pond or lake, the minimum thickness of ice to consider walking on is four inches of clear ice.
Fitch says it can't be dark, light or cloudy, it must be clear. Because he says clear ice is the strongest type of ice.
We know now that it’s important to stay off the icy rivers, but the owner of the Valley Gem in Marietta says that wasn’t always the case on the Muskingham.
“It was actually a very popular spot to ice skate back in the 1800’s before the power plants and before the warming that we have now. But they would ice skate and it was a very popular place to go.'
While temperatures are expected to warm up in the next few days the ice will thaw and standing on any frozen surface will become more dangerous. And incoming rain may cause its own problems.
“Rain storm or any type of a rain then the river will rise and with the rise of the river the ice will break up and then you'll have the ice flowing out and that is a danger for towing traffic and for anyone else that has a structure in the river.”
Fitch says no ice is ever one hundred percent safe. So test the thickness and clarity on still bodies of water and never try to walk on the river.