The City of Evanston this morning issued a warning to visitors to the lakefront urging them to walk only on the sandy beach and not on the ice extending out into the lake.

The lakefront now has significant areas of shelf ice on Lee Street Beach and South Boulevard Beach, with some sections of shelf ice at other public beaches.

Shelf ice is formed by waves pushing ice against the beach. It is very dangerous to walk upon because the ice is not attached to the bottom of the lake, but only to the shore.

The ice may appear stable, but it is floating on water. Cracks, thin ice or holes may be hidden by drifted snow. Anyone who ventures onto shelf ice could easily fall through and rescue is nearly impossible.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Shelf Ice on Beaches

    Shelf ice can be very misleading.  We once took a visiting friend to the lake and walked out to what we thought was the edge of the shore.  Because the ice contained quite a bit of sand, we actually thought we were still on the snowy beach.  My horror was realized when we were quite suddenly at the end of the ice shelf and saw that the waves were striking the shelf several feet below us.  We beat a hasty retreat and, even though that happened four years ago, the memory of it still gives me a chill.

    1. Same here

      I did the same thing with my 2 young sons when we first moved to the lake front. I remember when it dawned on me that we were actually not standing on land. This was 10 years ago and I literally start sweating/panic every time I think of it.

  2. Add warning signs on beaches

    I go to the lake shore often to walk and I see people walking on the shelf ice all the time.   I'm sure that they don't realize how dangerous it is.  I'm also sure that this city warning will not reach many of them.   I think that the city should add some warning signs at beach entrances or on the beaches themselves.

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