Due to the current icy snap, people are experiencing disruption, especially to their travel plans, but students seem to be enjoying the conditions as all schools on the south Island closed for a snow day Monday. However, the novel conditions of snow and ice can be dangerous.
Sunday, Feb.10 at approximately 4 p.m., three teens were spotted enjoying the snowy conditions at Beacon Hill Park when one decided to walk out into the middle of Goodacre Lake.
Although the ice did not crack, experts advise only walking on ice if it is clear blue and you are sure it is at least 15 cm thick. Grey ice is unsafe, and white opaque or snow ice is half the strength of blue ice. A depth of 20 cm is needed for groups of walkers or skaters.
The youth walked out onto the ice, to the iconic turtle log, where ducks and turtles sun themselves in the summer. The boy’s two friends watched and called out to him while he was on the ice and two adults not thought to be linked to the three boys watched from the pondside. The boys then briefly walked away, before running to catch a bus.
Parts of the pond can be seen to be unfrozen in the video, suggesting the youth was lucky not to fall in.
Ryan Shotton, Citizen Engagement Coordinator for the City of Victoria said that due to the aerators in the water, the ice is not safe to walk on.
“If they fall in it would be an emergency,” he said. “We definitely do not endorse walking on the ice. They are taking their lives in their hands.”
Shotton added that there are signs around the water warning park users and if someone were to fall in they risked the quick onset of hypothermia. In the past, there is believed to have been a drowning in the lake.
This afternoon, at approximately 2pm, two more boys were seen walking across the ice, close to a patch of water that had no ice on top of it.
There is more prosaic, yet no less important advice, for people to stay safe in the unusually cold conditions.
Warm clothing, especially items perhaps not always worn during Victorian winters, such as gloves, are important and pedestrians are being advised to wear suitable footwear. Even on seemingly clear sidewalks, ice has formed thanks to a combination of fluctuating temperatures, and recent rainfall and snow.
On the roads, police have warned motorists to allocate more time in their daily routines to clearing their windshields of snow and ice. Some authorities, such as the District of Central Saanich have even told motorists to find alternative means of transport if their cars are not set-up for the winter weather. At the very minimum, drivers are asked to check their tire tread before departing on a journey. Due to the possibility of unforeseen circumstances in the future, motorists have been asked to keep an eye on their fuel gauges and to take warm clothing with them, even for short journeys.
If you are over 65, have a health condition or reduced mobility, you are recommended to keep your house heated to at least 18C/64F especially through the night.
The general overview is to enjoy the snow but to be vigilant, especially when travelling or having fun. And to leave Goodacre lake to the ducks, for now.
We have reached out to the Parks department of the city of Victoria for comment about the safety of Beacon Hill Park’s lakes and ponds.