Last weekend’s TV news featured a story about Lake Geneva that showed how quickly ice conditions are changing this year. The Lake Geneva area was celebrating Winterfest 2016 and the National Ice Sculpting Championship, so there were a lot of visitors there to enjoy the weekend. In the town of Lake Geneva parking is always at a premium, especially on weekends, and this weekend was no exception.

As the morning crowds began to grow, some people apparently looked at the expanse of ice right off the main drag and decided that if snowmobiles could glide across the ice, as many of them were, than they could park their cars on the lake ice.

They should have checked with the local authorities (fire or police) about the ice before heading out on the ice pack. I recommend checking before walking out to ice fish, much less before driving a full-size vehicle on the ice. They did not check. Soon more people who were looking for parking saw cars parked on the ice and decided if those cars were out there, the ice must be safe, so they parked there as well. Before long there were several dozen vehicles parked on the ice near shore in downtown Lake Geneva.

As the afternoon turned sunny and the temperature climbed to near 40 degrees, no one noticed that the ice was also changing until mid-afternoon, when some saw the cars were sinking into the lake. Within a short time some 15 cars had become partially submerged in Lake Geneva. With the help of two towing companies, the Fire Department began pulling the cars out of the water. It was after 11 p.m. when the last vehicle was removed from the lake.

A number of the vehicle owners were fortunate enough to drive their cars off the ice, but I will hazard a guess that eight or 10 of the vehicles that went into the water will be insurance company write-offs. Videos and news reports about the vehicles and the extractions can be found under “Lake Geneva” on YouTube. I will repeat myself: Please be careful on the ice this year. The rapidly changing weather calls for extra care. …until next time, keep a tight line.

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