FILE - The U.S. Coast Guard's Alder breaks up ice in Thunder Bay in January. An icebreaker is supposed to arrive back in the city this coming week to clear channels in the harbour.
This winter’s extended cold will likely mean a later start to the port’s shipping season.
Thunder Bay Port Authority chief executive officer Tim Heney said an icebreaker will likely arrive in the city this coming week to begin clearing channels in the harbour. It was expected to arrive this past week but ran into delays in Duluth.
Once it arrives Heney anticipates it will take around a week to get the harbour opened up and he doesn’t expect the first ships to arrive until the beginning of April.
“It’s probably five days to a week later due to the ice situation,” Heney said earlier this week.
“Traditionally we average two to three feet of ice on the harbour but this year it has extended out to Lake Superior so that’s the biggest difference and that can provide some additional challenges.”
It was reported earlier this month that more than 90 per cent of the lake’s surface was covered in ice.
The longer wait likely won’t have too much of an impact on the shipping season as a whole, due to difficulties rail companies have encountered trying to move the grain.
Issues with transporting a record harvest from the prairies have resulted in the city’s elevators only holding approximately 200,000 tonnes of crop, with a capacity to hold 1.2 million tonnes.
“The grain is still moving into the port and that won’t start for about another week,” he said. “It’s not really delaying anything at this point.”
Delays in the start of the shipping season aren’t just limited to the head of Lake Superior.
Heney said the Welland Canal, which connects Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, is scheduled to open on March 28, five days later than in 2013.