The final three floating sections of the 22-span Lake Erie-Niagara River ice boom were installed Monday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported.
Although the lake water temperature remained at 43 degrees – the warmest in recorded history for the date – the start of the installation of the 1.7-mile boom occurs no later than Dec. 16, under order of the International Joint Commission. It can be installed earlier if the lake temperature drops to 39 degrees.
The placement of the boom, between Buffalo and Fort Erie, Ont., at the entrance to the Niagara River, is designed to reduce ice floes entering the river.
It lessens the opportunity for ice jams to form on the river, which can cause property damage or hamper hydro-electric power generation further downstream.
The boom is removed by April 1, according to IJC order, unless more than 250 square miles of ice remains on Lake Erie.
In 2014, the boom’s removal didn’t start until April 29 and wasn’t completely out until mid-May.