Winter has come, and the Connecticut River has begun to freeze. The reactor at Vernon is no longer heating the river. It is no longer giving off a thermal plume. I had predicted that the river might freeze south of the Coolidge Bridge. Since the last posting, there has been a heavy rain of over one inch, washing out the ice, followed by more freezing. The effects have been quite dramatic on the Mill River Bicycle Bridge, near my home.
Then the rain came, over one inch:
The ice also washed down the ice blocks from further upstream. The rising water has broken up the ice and floated it downstream, where it is left behind by the falling waters:
With more freezing the ice has frozen again, showing clear ice trapping floating ice, to start the process again.
The rain has made little difference at the Sportsman’s Marina. Before:
After the rain there is not much change in the ice:
There has been beautiful ice forms below the bike bridge at Northampton:
And after the rain:
Above view upstream from bike path bridge, Northampton and below is the view downstream.
Ice has formed both above the bridge and below the bridge, but not at the bridge. I know from rowing on the river that the area at the bridge has a stronger current than other parts of the river. The ice is forming where the current is slow, and staying open where it is faster. It seems that the area I had picked to discuss the freezing may be one of the last places to freeze on the river.
At Gill the river is completely frozen. I have been unable to find old pictures of this view showing open water.
After the rain, I took a trip to look at the Connecticut River.
Where the Oxbow connects with the Connecticut River the River is completely frozen, unlike past years. Note much of the ice is “black.” or non-white. It is transparent. The river has melted and then refrozen.
At the Connecticut River at the bridge in Northfield there is ice completely across the river both upsteam and down. It too has melted and then refrozen. In past years I have driven by and not taken pictures because the river was open.
At Northfield boat launch the river is completely frozen:
At Hinsdale the Vernon pool is completely frozen, as in past years. I met an man planning to icefish at the pool. I choose not to follow him onto the ice, but he reassured me that the ice was was 8 inches and safe. .
Compare this to several years ago:
At this point there are multiple points of observation showing that the river has frozen now in places it has not frozen in past years.
I spoke with my sister Margot, who reported that the river was largely frozen down in Hartford, Ct and sent me this picture.
I have never seen the river completely frozen there at Hartford. I wrote to my friend Brian, who responded:
Andy — Having just returned from Antarctica, my observations about ice on the CT river are likely to be relative. . .
That said, I have noticed since my return that the river is frozen solid from bank to bank in Hartford, which is the exception rather than the rule. However, I understand there was some very cold weather (teens or lower) while we were away, so I’m not sure whether VY deserves any credit (or) blame for that. Since you’ve raised the issue, I’ll keep an eye out from my office, which overlooks the river, and keep you posted on what I see.
I looked for the data and found some at the WeatherUnderground.
If one looks at the marker of degree days, then 2014, the year of the “polar vortex” at 1316 was the coldest year, and 2015 at 1216 is marginally colder than 2013. This suggests that variance in the temperature cannot explain this increased icing.
I predicted that there would be ice below the Coolidge Bridge, and that has not yet happened. However, the winter is not yet over, and colder weather is forecast.
Besides, there is much more icing of the river than in past years. I believe that some of the increased icing is from the shutting down of Vermont Yankee.
This year “ice out” will be different.