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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
St. Paul District
Public Affairs Office
332 Minnesota St., Suite E1500
St. Paul, MN 55101
Phone: (651) 290-5807
Fax: (651) 290-5752
Brandon Olson, operations, drills one of the holes to measure the ice on Lake Pepin in 2011. The ice is measured every mile using global positioning system.
ST. PAUL, Minn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, will begin taking this year's annual Lake Pepin ice measurements, Wednesday, Feb. 13.
The Corps takes ice measurements on Lake Pepin each year to predict the navigational outlook on the Upper Mississippi River. Located on the Mississippi River between Red Wing, Minn., and Wabasha, Minn., Lake Pepin is the location of choice for these measurements because it’s the last part of the navigation channel where the ice breaks up due to the slower river current in the lake.
Survey crews from the Corps’ Fountain City Service Base in Fountain City, Wis., use an airboat and a global positioning system to identify the exact measurement locations. In addition to measuring the ice thickness, the crew also records the general ice conditions. The data is used by the navigation industry to predict when it's safe to break through the ice and begin the 2013 navigation season.
Last year, the first tow to break through Lake Pepin and make it to St. Paul, Minn., was the Motor Vessel Deana Ann, a tow operated Marquette Transportation Company, Inc., of Paducah, Ky., on March 17. The average opening date of the navigation season in St. Paul for the last 10 years is March 20. For many of those who live in the Midwest, the first tow of the season is the unofficial start of spring.
This year, due to ongoing construction at Lock and Dam 6 until March 11, the Corps does not anticipate any up bound, out-of-town tows in Lake Pepin until at least March 15.
Normally, ice measurements are completed weekly until the navigation season begins. The data will be posted on the St. Paul District’s website. For figures on past and present Lake Pepin ice measurements, see: http://www.mvp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Navigation/IceMeasurements.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, serves the American public in the areas of environmental enhancement, navigation, flood damage reduction, water and wetlands regulation, recreation sites and disaster response. It contributes around $175 million to the five-state district economy. The 700 employees work at more than 40 sites in five upper-Midwest states. For more information, see www.mvp.usace.army.mil.
Release no. 13-007
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