Delaware goes arctic


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Indian River Inlet on Sunday the 15th … photo by Ernie Hyatt

Last Sunday was beautiful, we had a seals on the beaches, it was spring in February.  This Sunday Delaware may have broken a record for lowest temperatures for that particular day.  The coldest day ever recorded in Delaware was: -17 F in Millsboro, Delaware on 1/17/1893, now that was a cold day.  Hopefully we don’t break that record.   We had ridiculous winds and dangerously low wind chills the past 2 days so it is possible.  Spring can’t get here fast enough.  It was zero degrees this morning and anyone who complains how hot it is this summer deserves a throat punch.  The Delaware Bay and Inland bays have ice floating all over the place.  We don’t need a repeat of last year when the Delaware River had an ice dam jammed up on a bridge that flooded areas north during heavy rains.  Nick Karpin is working up there running large ships and tugs, he said it is a mess. I remember Bowers beach had large chunks of ice that looked like mini glaciers washed up on the beach.  Some of them were three feet thick.  I was watching watermen use poles to push away ice from the boats while returning to port.   Now we have snow headed this way and the forecast is calling for half a foot to a foot.  The colder it is the more we will see, due to the fact dry snow is lighter than wet snow and doesn’t pack as heavily from the weight.  Basically 10 inches of wet snow is like 20 inches of dry snow.

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Upper Delaware River frozen at the Ben Franklin Bridge … photo by Nick Karpin

The frequently asked question yesterday was  how does saltwater freeze?  Ocean water will freeze just like freshwater, but at a lower temperature.  Fresh water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit but sea water freezes around 28.4 degrees Fahrenheit, due to the salt in it.  The ice contains very little salt because only the water freezes not the salt itself.  It can actually be collected and melted for drinking water.  Saltwater itself freezes around negative twenty one degrees Celsius if it is a supersaturated solution of saltwater or when the water is 23.3% salt by weight.  Our ocean is not that salty and we do not live on Pluto so we will not see those temperatures.

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Murderkill River in Bowers Beach … photo by Rene Saldutti
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The Murderkill River in Bowers Beach is frozen over as well as all the tributaries into the Delaware Bay and Inland Bays.  Guys working boats are creating literal ice highways through channels and having to pick their way carefully through the ice.  Mother nature may freeze up for the winter but the work for some folks never ceases.  We saw a lot of power outages yesterday and frozen pipes.  Big thanks to the linemen keeping the lights and heat on for everyone.  People that have to work in this weather have a tough job.  If you don’t need to go out in this cold weather you are better off staying home and out of the way.  Emergency crews will be busy enough and there is no sense in adding to the mayhem and chaos of snow in Delaware.

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Ice chunk that washed up on Bowers Beach last year

If you happen to brave the cold and do a little fishing, perch and crappie are being caught.  If you plan on releasing the fish do not take them out of the water.  In these temperatures their gills will instantly freeze and kill them, remove the hook in the water.   Of course you have to be able to get to the water.  I have a buddy with ice fishing gear. By Thursday we just might be able to use that gear and drill a hole for fishing.  Or we could just find a nice big piece of pancake ice and drift for winter flounder.  That season started on February 11th and is a creel limit of  12 inches and 2 fish per day per angler.  Personally I think hitting a grocery store would be easier in this foul weather.  Winter flounder fishing is a different kind of flounder fishing.  Some guys will use a chum bag near the mouth of a slough to attract the fish or pound the bottom with a pole.  This stirs up the mud and the fish’s curiosity.  Believe it or not canned corn is a good bait for winter flounder.  You do this bottom pounding in shallow water of the Inland Bays.  Stay warm everyone, it is only 32 days until spring!

Fish On!!

Rich King


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