Spring icebreaking on St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Québec

News release

February 24, 2021                              

Québec City, Quebec –  The Canadian Coast Guard is announcing that it will begin its spring icebreaking operations on the St. Lawrence River between Montréal and Québec on the morning of Monday, March 1. However, these activities could begin earlier given the risk to coastal pack ice of the combination of a warm trend and high tides expected on February 26, 27 and 28. Icebreaking will continue thereafter on several streams, rivers, and river mouths in Quebec.

Annual operations on the river, including those in the Lac-Saint-Pierre portion, are designed to break the coastal pack ice into small sections, thus preventing large blocks of ice from drifting and clogging the shipping channel. As for the river operations, they are designed to clear the entrance of tributaries from their ice, and thus prevent ice jams and flooding that may occur during the spring thaw.

This type of icebreaking is carried out by a Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft, either the CCGS Mamilossa or the CCGS Sipu Muin ─ air cushion vehicles, the engines of which make an aircraft-like noise.

The Canadian Coast Guard reminds the public that it can be very dangerous to venture onto the ice of the St. Lawrence River. We had a particularly mild start to winter with prolonged above-average temperatures, which delayed the consolidation of the coastal pack ice. The expected warm trend combined with winds from the southeast or the southwest, will weaken the pack ice and could cause it to stall in places. A great deal of vigilance is therefore required should you decide to have activities on it. However, we recommend not going on the ice.

As a reminder, it is also dangerous at all times to venture onto the ice when icebreakers or hovercrafts are in the vicinity. Ice movement can occur and pose a real danger to anyone in the operational area of these vessels, even long after the vessel has left the area.

People who have left facilities or equipment on the ice are advised to bring them back to shore as soon as possible.

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Communications Branch
Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Quebec Region

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