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Don’t let soft spot for ice sports lead you astray

It’s too soon — and we’re too superstitious — to chalk this up to a winter that wasn’t.

But it certainly wasn’t what was heralded at the beginning of the year, between the prognosticators (including the usually steady Farmers Almanac) and the blast of early snow.

Those foreboding “coldest winter in a decade” forecasts had us snow sport lovers rubbing our mittens together in glee, and plotting all the fun we’d have in the snow and ice.

Unfortunately, the only thing consistent about our winter weather is that it keeps changing.

This has taken a toll on ice formation, which in turn takes a toll on some of our favorite winter pursuits.

Last weekend’s opening of Tip-Up Town on Houghton Lake had a number of snowmobiles, a side-by-side and a truck all crashing through soft spots in the ice.

We’ve also heard anecdotal stories from anglers who’ve gone out to drill holes on what they thought was 5-inch ice, only to see that it was frighteningly less.

Please be careful on the ice this year.

Test ice completely, noting that snow- and slush-covered ice is usually trouble. Take a two-way radio, ice picks and life preservers, and remember to roll away from the hole, back the way you came if there’s danger.

We’re crossing our fingers for better ice development — a whole lot can happen between now and when we finally push our shovels to the back of the garage, in say, May — but it’s looking like a season of extra precautions.

Being “on thin ice” was the warning our parents would give us, a heads-up before an impending consequence to our foolish actions.

But getting grounded or losing car privileges would be a soft landing, compared to what’s at stake by over-estimating the ice this season.

— Traverse City Record-Eagle

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