'Stay away from shipping routes': Coast guards warn of thin ice while preparing for icebreaking

The Canadian Coast Guard will be back on the Great Lakes to ensure shipping vessels coming in and out of ports and harbours travel safely and efficiently through the ice this winter.

Icebreaking on St.Mary's, St. Lawrence rivers beginning on Dec. 21

Canadian coast guards will be icebreaking on the St. Mary's River and St. Lawrence River beginning Dec. 21. (Canadian Coast Guard)

The Canadian Coast Guard will be back on the Great Lakes to ensure shipping vessels coming in and out of ports and harbours travel safely and efficiently through the ice this winter.

Port of Thunder Bay's Director of Engineering and Harbour Master, Guy Jarvis said meetings with both the Canadian and United States coast guards have been taking place "twice a week" and examining the ice layer every two days.

"We have an influx of shipments expected to arrive in the next few days however things should slow down over the holidays," Jarvis said.

According to a written statement released on Wednesday, the Canadian Coast Guard's Central and Arctic Region works closely with the United States Coast Guard to enure the safe and efficient movement of scheduled vessel traffic.

Officials said icebreakers are working this week on the St. Mary's River and St. Lawrence River.

Jarvis said people should avoid activities on the ice and stay away from shipping routes as broken and fragmented icy tracks may not freeze over immediately and newly fallen snow can obscure ship tracks.

"The winds from the north have really helped blow some of the ice off the lake," Jarvis said; however, with the recent milder temperatures the ice on the Great Lakes is thin and unstable.