US Coast Guard Sector Sault Sainte Marie begun Operation Taconite, on January 7. This USCG’s largest domestic icebreaking operation in response to expanded ice growth in the commercial ports of Western Lake Superior and the St. Marys River.
Operation Taconite includes Lake Superior, St. Marys River, Straits of Mackinac, Georgian Bay, Green Bay, northern Lake Huron, and Lake Michigan. Ice breaking operations are based on the following order of priorities:
- Search and rescue;
- Urgent response to vessels in deteriorating weather conditions;
- Exigent community services for flood control;
- Remote communities in immediate need of food, fuel for heat, energy, or and medical assistance;
- Facilitation of navigation.
In the following weeks, numerous commercial waterways may close after due consideration is given to the protection of the marine environment and the safety of island residents who use naturally formed ice bridges for transportation to and from the mainland.