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Countdown to a record?

1/19/12 (Thu)

Countdown to a record?
Latest lake freeze-up days away
By STU MERRY

Can Lake Sakakawea make it another week without being officially called completely frozen over? Only Mother Nature knows for sure, and she’s not telling. If it can make it past Jan. 26, it will be a new record.
Corps records show the latest freeze over was Jan. 26, 1955.  The earliest freeze-over on record came that same year, Nov. 23, 1955.
Dale Evenson, Garrison Dam Power Plant manager, thinks freeze-over will be pretty soon. Water temperature was at 34 degrees late this past week. With this week’s cold temperatures, ice has been building in the bays and around the edges of the lake. Once that occurs, the main body of the lake begins to freeze over. It doesn’t take long after that for full freeze-over to occur.
What dictates formal freeze-over? The official check point is the overlook at the intake structure on the north side of the dam.
“We just locate a spot that’s open and watch that,” Evenson said.
Evenson said plant mechanics make the call when the lake is officially frozen over. They then pass the information on to him. Evenson then reports the information to the reservoir control center at the Corps’ office in Omaha. The info is recorded and used for historical data. The content is used to operate the system, Evenson said.
As freeze-over nears, equipment is engaged around the intake structure to keep the water from freezing. The bubblers, as they are called, agitate the water and prevent any damage to the structure.
Evenson said there’s never been a time when the lake has not frozen over. He thinks this year will be no exception.