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Strong winds break off pieces of Lake Erie ice boom

High winds are being blamed for tearing apart a small portion of the Lake Erie ice boom Sunday morning, but state officials say the 8,800-feet span remains largely intact and fully operational.

The ice boom has 22 spans, each with 10 steel pontoons. A few pontoons on a single span were affected, according to a spokesman for the New York State Power Authority, which is responsible for the ice boom.

"There's a broken span on the ice boom as a result of the high winds," said NYPA spokesman Paul DeMichele. "There are no operational concerns as the ice is holding fine. There are no jams. No stoppages."

Late Sunday morning, The Buffalo News spotted what appeared to be a broken-off piece of the ice boom by the Mather Arch, along the Niagara Parkway shoreline in Fort Erie, Ont. Chunks of ice also were apparent.

But DeMichele said it is not unusual to see some ice in the river even when the boom is in place.

"The boom is working as designed. It limits, it does not eliminate, the ice flow," he said.

DeMichele said the Power Authority was continuing to monitor the situation, and would repair the span once winds slow down.

The boom is a series of 15- to 30-foot long steel pontoons stretching 8,800 feet across Lake Erie. The structure is designed to reduce the flow of ice from Lake Erie into the Niagara River and prevent Power Authority water intakes from being clogged by ice.

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