Weather Blog

Ice skating on Gig Harbor? It's happened...

Ice skating on Gig Harbor? It's happened...
I've had a few people ask about this current cold snap if it's possible for local bodies of water to freeze over.

Fresh water can begin to freeze at 32 degrees, so it's easier to get ice going there. Green Lake has frozen over several times in Seattle's history (although more frequently in years' past.) Lake Union and Lake Washington can also at least get pockets of ice with an extended freeze, and we have some concrete evidence that Gig Harbor has frozen solid.

Take a look at this home video of ice skating on Gig Harbor.

Linda McCowen, a Board Member of the Harbor History Museum in Gig Harbor, saw this blog entry and was able to provide more information -- including the date. She says they have photos from Frank Shaw, Peninsula Gateway Typesetter and photographer, who took still black and white photos with the boy on the bicycle, seen in this video, on January 29, 1950.

McCowen says the winter at the end of December 1949, shown in a recent Looking Back photo in the Tacoma News Tribune, was very snowy and cold. The snows continued steadily all through the month of January 1950. The snows froze 3/4 of Gig Harbor bay, especially at the head of the harbor, where the movie shows, because of the fresh water from Crescent Creek and Donkey Creek by the end of the month.

Glein Boat Co, whose business it was to maintain the boats shown, decided after the storm to give up his business and move to San Diego. He decided he just couldn't make a living in those conditions. (And, a short two winters later, Frank Shaw recorded some other heavy snow scenes in the harbor.)

If you've lived here a long time, or know stories of past frozen pond events, help me out here and post your experiences in the comments below.

But as far as Puget Sound goes, that is salt water, and that has a lower freezing temperature. Seawater freezes somewhere around 28 degrees instead of 32, so it's more difficult to get ice there. Not impossible, but with our climate, I figure it'd be quite rare.

Could any of this happen this week? We'll see. With the long range forecast beyond the weekend seeming to drift closer to upper 30s/low 40s for highs, we probably won't be cold enough long enough for major freezes, but perhaps some icy spots.