ST. PAUL, Minn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, will begin taking this year's annual Lake Pepin ice measurements Feb. 26.
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 2014 navigation season.
Last year, the first tow to break through Lake Pepin and make it to St. Paul, Minn., was the Motor Vessel Roberta Tabor, a tow operated American River Transportation Company in St. Louis, April 8. The average opening date of the navigation season in St. Paul for the last 10 years is March 24. 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 8 until March 9, the Corps does not anticipate any up bound, out-of-town tows in Lake Pepin until at least March 15 – potentially later due to ice conditions.
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.mil/Missions/Navigation/IceMeasurements.aspx.
The nearly 650 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, employees working at more than 40 sites in five upper-Midwest states serve the American public in the areas of environmental enhancement, navigation, flood damage reduction, water and wetlands regulation, recreation sites and disaster response. Through the Corps’ Fiscal Year 2011 $175 million budget, nearly 2,800 non-Corps jobs were added to the regional economy as well as $271 million to the national economy. For more information, see www.mvp.usace.army.mil.
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