Ice Watch: Will the River Freeze Over This Winter?

It has been a mild winter so far in Detroit, with the temperature not yet falling below 15 degrees F in January, even at night. The daytime high has often been in the 30s. Not surprisingly, the Rouge River, being moving water, has not frozen over.

The last few days have been more typical late January weather, mostly in the 20s, with no afternoon thaws. So I have been watching for ice, conscious of the fact that the river never did freeze over last year. (On February 10, 2020, I posted “The River This Winter: I Miss the Ice.”)

On January 24 this year, I saw the first indications of ice on the river.

Ice typically forms along the banks first, where the water is flowing more slowly.

These next 3 photos were taken from the same location on the following three days, January 25. January 26, and January 27.

The ice covering appears to be increasing, but very, very slowly. Since the open water is constantly flowing, it appears doubtful that there will be a full covering if the temperature does not drop further.

Since different locations on the river freeze at different rates, I made a record of another spot during the same days (starting upper left, clockwise: January 24, 25, 26, 27).

It is quite unusual, in my 17 years of visiting Eliza Howell Park regularly, for the river not to freeze over at least once during the winter. Two consecutive years is definitely noteworthy.

My most recent photo of the river covered with ice and snow is from February 1, 2019.

Winter is not over. The ice watch continues.

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