Traverse City Record-Eagle

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December 18, 2013

Officials warn of ice danger on inland lakes

TRAVERSE CITY — A winter trek onto a frozen inland lake can be an enticing but dangerous attraction for outdoor enthusiasts in the Grand Traverse area as temperatures reach rock-bottom levels.

Local public safety officials are warning residents that seemingly-solid ice may not hold the weight of a snowmobile, ice fisherman or adventurous hiker. Grand Traverse County Sheriff Tom Bensley said ice conditions vary lake to lake and snow cover can be deceptive.

“People should be aware the snow may be of uniform depth but the ice may not be uniformly thick,” he said.

Tom Skowronski, Leelanau County’s emergency management director, said the growing potential for icy plunges led the county’s sheriff’s deputies and local firefighters to take part in a rescue exercise with the U.S. Coast Guard Monday. The exercise took place on Lake Leelanau, not far from where a snowmobiler fell through the ice in March and spent 25 minutes in the frigid water.

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