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TWC News Video: Later ice boom removal delays Maid of the Mist season

4/14/14

WESTERN NEW YORK — Mother Nature has the upper hand when it comes to the start of the season for the Maid of the Mist.

Last year, the tour boat company’s season started on April 19, but don’t expect to see the boats in the water anytime soon.

“The season is going to be delayed this year,” said Maid of the Mist spokesperson Kevin Keenan. “It’s one of those situations where you’re reliant on the weather, and because we had such a brutal winter, and the ice is so thick, we just can’t do anything until the weather improves.”

For now, the tour boats will remain docked until most of the ice on Lake Erie and the Niagara River has melted, and that could take some time.

“There’s still roughly about 70 percent ice cover on the eastern Lake Erie,” said Paul Yu, chief of water management for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The ice boom at the mouth of the Niagara River helps prevent ice jams, and speeds up the melting process of the ice during the spring.

The boom is usually taken out by April 1, but only if the ice cover is less than 250 square miles. Currently, there’s about 1,500 square miles of ice.

Take the boom out too soon, and there could be some serious damage to the hydropower plant and the shoreline on both sides of the border.

“If you do not try to stabilize an ice cover, a lot of ice runs occur on the river, which can damage property, as well as cause damage to the ice intakes,” said Yu.

Chunks of ice aren’t a good thing for the Maid of the Mist either.

“We want to make sure that all that ice passes through, and doesn’t damage any of the docks in the water,” said Keenan. “As equally, of course, we don’t want any of the ice getting near the boats, because it could damage the boats.”

The Army Corps hopes to remove the boom by the end of the month.

The Maid of the Mist, however, isn’t too worried. Over the past two decades, Keenan said the average opening date has been April 24.

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