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Coast Guard breaks ice along Penobscot River to clear way for boats, avoid flooding

Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 3:25 PM EST
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - It’s an annual tradition on the Penobscot River.

The U.S. Coast Guard was back Thursday morning breaking up the thick ice with specialized boats.

Without this important task, the Bangor area could see trouble when the weather begins to warm up.

“The potential in the springtime when it starts melting, the ice can raise the water level and flood the city of Bangor,” said Ryan O’Hare, Chief Boatswain Mate with the Coast Guard.

The Penobscot River is also an important transit route for home heating oil.

“It’s just important for the commerce for the ships to be able to get through, get up the river and deliver the fuel. So that way, they can heat the homes in the cold winter months like it is today,” said O’Hare.

Breaking up the ice on the river is important for a number of reasons, but it’s especially challenging when it’s sub zero degrees.

“Today we definitely faced some freezing temperatures. On the way up we had -14 with a windchill of -43,” said O’Hare. “Everything is freezing on the deck, so it’s slippery for my guys to be out on deck, and the ice is definitely thicker in the colder temps.”

They’ll be back on the river Friday morning ahead of the snow storm.

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