On each beginning of season, some reckless snowmobilers ride on waters that just turned to ice. It takes many centimeters of ice to support a snowmobile of 250 kg plus its pilot and the vibration produced! Sometimes, drama occurs; other times, drama is barely avoided.
A rescue practice at Lake Édouard in Haute-Mauricie.
We must be aware that bodies of water do not freeze all at the same time and thickness is different from one point to the other. This difference comes from the more or less large exposure to wind, to currents that can be faster at some places where shores get closer and produce a constriction. In brief, ice conditions on the same lake or river may vary over only a few hundred meters.
Also, voids may appear under the ice and make it break. The numerous retaining lakes that are used as reservoirs for Hydro-Québec also experience variable levels. As snow cannot be used to produce power, the water reservoirs of these large lakes are used to feed hydroelectric power plants during peak periods. All automn long, rain filled these lakes-reservoirs to the top and once winter is here, Hydro-Québec open the retaining dams and use these thousands of lakes in store to feed the power plants of downstream rivers and to meet the increased seasonal requirements. These lakes are to hydroelectric power production what batteries are to your sun-powered system. We store up for peak periods.
Rescue teams are not always close by and survival in cold water is short.
Also, when power dams are open to response to the hydroelectric power plant turbines, the rivers flow is variable as well as the ice. This one can move, get thinner at some places, thicker at others, pile up, become running water again. And water can accumulate on existing ice and under snow to produce slush. Slushing your snowmobile on bodies of water, even if you stay alive, could be very painful in your back and arms if you have to carry tree branches to get you out of trouble before everything freezes rapidly.
During this 2015-2016 season, with 32 000 km of federated, marked, verified, groomed and maintained trails, why would you risk your life in such adventure? Snowmobile clubs build bridges of 50 tons to support heavy grooming machines and they verify ice conditions before letting snowmobilers ride on bodies of water. In fact, local clubs managers know very well their water ways and markage is done in consideration of maximal safety crossings. Your life and health are worth the cost of a season trail pass. Buy yours, become a member of a snowmobile club and ride on federated trails. Drowning could be completely avoided if all snowmobilers would comply with clubs’ instructions, signage and markage on water ways crossings.
For rescue services, dial 911 or 310-4141 or from a mobile phone *4141
Trail M3 on St. Maurice River near Grand-Mère power plant, properly checked, signed and marked by the Club de Motos Neige de la Mauricie.
All members of the fire brigade water/ice rescue team of Lac-Édouard and La Tuque wish you a wonderful and safe snowmobile season on our water ways.
Rescuers from Lac-Édouard and La Tuque, well-prepared to rescue you on trails. Your winter gardian angels!