I ce has slowed shipping traffic through the Soo Locks and in the surrounding Great Lakes.
C rews have been working around the clock to clear paths to help ships travel since early December.
" You know I've been here for 21 years and this is the worst I can remember this soon," Kurt Bunker, Soo Locks St. Marys River Chief said.
I n fact , it's the earliest the ice has formed since the 1930s.
O ver the course of the last month , the temperatures keep dropping and the ice continues to be a problem for shipping traffic.
T hat's why the U.S. Coast Guard has been out in full force. Four out of the 11 Great Lakes ice cutters are on the St. Marys River.
" As the cutters in the lakers drive through the ice they turn it into smaller pieces which refreezes," Captain Steve Teschendor, USCG Sector Sault Ste. Marie Commander said.
T he USCG says in some areas along the river, ice chunks have clumped together creating ice burgs that are nearly ten feet deep.
" That blocks up and it has caught some freighters in the ice dow n there , which slows the traffic all the way up here ," Bunker said.
One thousand foot freig h ters are waiting until a large enough path is cleared for travel .
A nd for other ships making the trip , they might experience a few roadblocks when trying to get through the locks.
" When you get a lot of ice into the lock s, we either have to flush the ice through or we will send tugs in the scrape the ice off the walls," Bunker said.
B oth Soo Locks and USCG crews have been doing their best to keep this multi-billion dollar shipping industry moving.
" It's cause d some delays , but we have not had any of what we call a waterway closure at this point, so things of been slowed but they are moving," Captain Teschendor said.
S hips are noticing delayed travel times and if they plan on making it through the locks they need to do so by January 15th. That's when the locks close for the season until March.