Nfld. & Labrador

Strait of Belle Isle ferry service cancelled due to ice for 2nd day this week

Ice in the strait is an annual problem, but a combination of wind and cold temperatures has made this season more challenging, says the coast guard.

Coast guard ice breaker can't reach St. Barbe, unable to escort ferry

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Henry Larsen cuts through the ice, as seen from aboard the Qajaq W ferry. (Submitted by Hedley Ryland)

For the second time this week, ferry service across the Strait of Belle Isle has been cancelled due to ice.

On Thursday, Labrador Marine cancelled the day's departures from St. Barbe because Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Henry Larsen hasn't been able to reach the community to escort the ferry because of ice conditions. 

Brad Durnford, the coast guard's superintendent of ice operations in Atlantic Canada, said the ice situation this year isn't unusual a combination of cold temperatures and westerly winds have made things more challenging.

"You have pressure on the ice, so the track immediately behind the Larsen is starting to close right away so there's not much of a track for the ferry to follow behind," Durnford said. 

Labrador Marine hopes to try again tomorrow, but Durnford is not optimistic about the chances of getting the icebreaker into St. Barbe. 

Bradley Durnford, the coast guard's superintendent of icebreaking operations for the Atlantic region, speaks Thursday at a coast guard facility in St. John's. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

"There's an extreme cold warning in the area, so you can expect that the ice will not improve over the next few days," he said. "Just looking at the wind, it's moving in a westerly direction, which causes more pressure on that St. Barbe side." 

Ice in the strait is an annual challenge, said Durnford, and only a change in the wind and tide will alleviate the pressure. 

"It's a very hard place to work when the ice gets bad. It's one of the worst in Atlantic Canada," he said. "This next week will be very challenging given the westerly wind forecast and the extreme cold temperatures."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from CBC Newfoundland Morning

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